B-1 bombers testing new data link

June 23, 2010 at 2:13 PM
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LONG BEACH, Calif., June 23 (UPI) -- Boeing has started flight testing new digital avionics in the aft cockpit of B-1 Lancer bombers, the company reported.

The first test of new equipment, including a line-of-sight Link 16 data link, was conducted June 4 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the company said this week.

The crew successfully tested the Link 16 data link by sending and receiving text messages and receiving virtual mission assignment data such as target coordinates for a weapon, Boeing said.

Link 16 adds line-of-sight capability to the B-1's existing beyond line-of-sight Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol data link. It also integrates the JREAP data on to new, full-color displays with intuitive symbols and moving maps.

"Link 16 will allow the B-1 to be an active participant in a network that is commonly used by fighter, reconnaissance and command-and-control aircraft," said Mark Angelo, B-1 program manager for Boeing. "With Link 16, target coordinates can be sent directly to the weapon system from ground troops or forward operating bases, instead of the current method, where crew members type the coordinates in by hand after hearing them over the radio."

Boeing said three flight tests were being conducted this month. Additional tests would take place throughout the remainder of the year.

The Air Force has 66 B-1 bombers and all are to be fitted out with the Link 16, Boeing said.

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