EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- New computing hardware and communications infrastructure to allow faster information transfer by B-2 bombers is being flight tested by Northrop Grumman.
Testing of the extremely high frequency satellite program gear has been taking place at Edwards Air Force Base in California since September using B-2 stealth bomber test aircraft.
"The flight test program has demonstrated that the EHF Increment 1 computer upgrade system has reached a maturity level that allows us to conduct test sorties beyond the Edwards AFB local area with confidence," said Ron Naylor, Northrop Grumman's director of the EHF Increment 1 development program. "It also adds momentum to our efforts to give the B-2 the high-speed data handling infrastructure it will need for critical communications and weapons delivery upgrades in the future."
Northrop Grumman is the U.S. Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long-range strike arsenal and one of the world's most survivable aircraft systems. The B-2 is the only combat-proven stealth platform in the current U.S. inventory.
The EHF Increment 1 system undergoing testing includes:
-- A new integrated processing unit developed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y., that will replace up to a dozen current stand-alone avionics computers on the B-2.
-- A new disk drive unit developed by Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems, Plymouth, Minn., that will enable transfer of EHF data onto and off of the B-2.
-- A network of fiber optic cable that will support the high speed data transfers within the aircraft.
The three-increment EHF Satcom program is part of an ongoing effort by the Air Force and Northrop Grumman to modernize the B-2 to keep it fully mission capable against evolving enemy threats.
Increment 2 involves installation of a new communications terminal and new antennas that will allow the B-2 to transmit and receive information securely via satellite. Increment 3 will integrate the B-2 into the U.S. Department of Defense's Global Information Grid, a worldwide network of information systems, processes and personnel involved in collecting, storing, managing and disseminating information on demand to warfighters, policy makers and military support personnel.