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Stealth Bomber Upgrades Detailed.
A key upgrade recovering from a slow start is the delayed B-2 radar modernization program (RMP). Under the RMP, the mechanically scanned antenna of the Raytheon APQ-181 Ku-band multimode navigation and attack radar is being replaced with an active electronically scanned array (AESA).
Test results to-date are positive in terms of performance and maintenance. “The picture is very clear, and the crews are quite happy with it. There is also a lot less maintenance. It’s a reliable day-to-day working radar without moving parts,” he adds. The AESA modification will also add “hooks” for future modes, including high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and enhanced land/sea moving-target indication.
Modernization to digital standards is therefore expected to reap both maintenance and performance benefits, adds Mazur. Other avionics updates include several to integrate the B-2 more closely with other air and ground assets. The high-bandwidth, Extremely High-Frequency (EHF) satcom and computers upgrade is “a big pipe, and could make the B-2 the mother node for stealthy platforms in the combat area,” says Mazur.
Day-to-day maintenance issues with the LO coating treatment have dropped significantly with the introduction of alternate high-frequency material (AHFM). “It’s much more maintenance-friendly and more durable from an LO perspective,” says Harms. Maintenance downtime to repair and replace skin sections to the correct stealthy signature levels has dropped from between 36-96 hr. to as little as 45 min. “And that’s to do the job perfectly,” says Wheeler.
Faced initially with the staggering statistic of being non-mission capable up to 48,500 hr. per year due to LO maintenance issues, the Air Force has successfully driven beyond its goal of 24,200 hr. to achieve 13,900 hr. in Fiscal Year 2008. LO maintenance man-hours are similarly down by 30% compared with earlier years, says Harms.
Associated LO upgrade programs include an improved signature diagnostic system database, better radar frequency diagnostics, door edge treatments, magnetic radar-absorbing material framing and windshield LO treatments. Some of this is being realized through an integrated windshield redesign which is designed to reduce cracking and improve electrical conductivity.
Gu y Norris - Ares.
[edit on 8/8/2009 by C0bzz]