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B-52 bombers getting communications upgrade

A new Boeing communications kit that gives B-52 bombers enhanced communications capabilities is in the works for Air Force installation.

By Richard Tomkins
B-52 bombers, which first entered service in 1955, can carry 70,000 pounds of bombs. (USAF photo)
B-52 bombers, which first entered service in 1955, can carry 70,000 pounds of bombs. (USAF photo)

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 20 (UPI) -- The first U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber has been upgraded with an advanced communications system from Boeing and others are in line for it, the service reported.

The modification system is the Combat Network Communications Technology, or CONECT, which gives the bomber several communication data links, full-color LCD displays with real-time intelligence feeds overlaid on moving maps, a state-of-the-art computing network, and the ability to retarget a weapon, or mission parameters, in flight.

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"The delivery of the first B-52 to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., with the CONECT upgrade is a landmark event between Boeing and the Air Force customer," said Scot Oathout, Boeing B-52 program director. "CONECT not only provides valuable new capability to the aircraft, but does so in a cost-effective manner and ensures the aircraft will remain relevant in the future."

The Boeing B-52 is a long-range sub-sonic bomber brought into service in 1955. It can carry as much as 70,000 pounds of ordnance.

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The bomber fleet's upgrade with CONECT, now in low-rate initial production, will initially take place at Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma with the support of Boeing, the Air Force said.

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"Completion of this first installation and delivery of the CONECT capability to the warfighter are the result of our partners, from industry and government, working together to ensure our men and women in uniform have what they need to successfully complete their ever-changing mission," said Michael Schenck, B-52 CONECT program manager. "The entire B-52 enterprise should be proud of this achievement."

The Air Force currently operates 76 B-52s, which are based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

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