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B-2 upgrade programme
Northrop Grumman, the B-2's prime contractor, leads an industry team that is working on modernising the B-2. This is done to ensure that craft remains fully mission capable against evolving worldwide threats. A range of upgrade programmes are working on improving the B-2's lethality; its ability to receive updated target information during a mission, and its ability to collect, process and disseminate battlefield information with joint force commanders or other local first responders worldwide.
In June 2007, Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract to develop an EHF satellite communications capability and computer architecture upgrade for the B-2. The upgrade includes a Lockheed Martin integrated processing unit (IPU). Flight testing with the new systems was completed in July 2009.
US Air Force and Northrop Grumman Corporation completed the system design review of the new software and computing architecture during July 2008. The new architecture allows the B-2's new integrated processing unit (IPU) to communicate with the aircraft's processing applications.
This new architecture provides high-speed data handling environment required to implement future B-2 capabilities such as an EHF satellite communications system, and also provides B-2 the ability to destroy moving targets.
The Raytheon AN/APQ-181 covert strike radar, operating at J band (Ku band), is a multi-purpose radar with terrain following and terrain avoidance modes. Testing at Edwards Air Force Base has demonstrated reliable terrain following at altitudes down to 200ft.
In April, 2009 Northrop Grumman Corporation delivered to the US Air Force the first operational B-2 Spirit stealth bomber to be equipped with newly modernised radar. The aircraft was officially handed off to the air force on at Whiteman Air Force Base, the operational home of the B-2 fleet and the 509th Bomb Wing.
The updated aircraft will be used by air force to conduct additional field testing of the radar, and the data gathered from these decisions will support future fielding decisions.
The B-2 radar modernisation programme replaces the aircraft's original radar system with one that incorporates technology improvements that have occurred since the B-2 was originally designed in the early 1980s.
In November 2002, Raytheon was awarded a contract to develop a new Ku-band AESA (active electronically scanned array) antenna for the B-2 radar to avoid interference with commercial satellite systems after 2007.
Flight tests with new radar began in October 2007 and continued until 2008. Installation of the new antenna on the B-2 fleet is to be completed by 2012.
Navigation and communications
The B-2's navigation suite includes a Rockwell Collins TCN-250 tactical air navigation system (TACAN) and a VIR-130A instrument landing system.
"The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber has the capacity to carry up to 40,000lb of weapons, including conventional and nuclear weapons."
The communications equipment is supplied by Rockwell Collins. A Milstar military strategic and tactical relay satellite communications system is installed in block 30 aircraft.
The aircraft have been upgraded with Link 16 communications link.
Northrop Grumman has begun flight testing of the new computing hardware and communications infrastructure for the US Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber.
The new B-2 extremely high-frequency (EHF) Satcom Hardware will enable the bomber to send and receive battlefield information by satellite more than 100 times faster.
The flight test programme is part of Increment 1 of the USAF's B-2 EHF satellite communications programme.
The flight test programme demonstrated that the EHF increment 1 computer upgrade system has reached a maturity level to allow to conduct test sorties beyond the Edwards AFB local area.
The EHF Increment 1 system that took the flight test includes a new integrated processing unit to replace up to a dozen current stand-alone avionics computers on the B-2.
It also includes a new disk drive unit to enable transfer of EHF data onto and off the B-2 and a network of fibre optic cables to support the high speed data transfers within the aircraft.
The B-2 is the only US aircraft that combines stealth, long-range, large-payload and precision weapons in a single platform
Redesign Promises to Reduce Maintenance Costs, Improve Aircraft Availability
PALMDALE, Calif., Nov. 9, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) recently won a $109 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to produce a redesigned aft deck for the B-2 stealth bomber, further enhancing the world's most survivable aircraft.
The B-2 Spirit's aft deck, a metallic panel on the bomber's upper surface that shields its composite airframe from the heat of engine exhaust, will be redesigned for long-term reliability and affordability. The retrofit will enable the aircraft to span normal long-term maintenance cycles without additional services or repairs.
The newly redesigned structure reflects Northrop Grumman's thorough thermal and structural analysis of the aft deck, its adjoining structures and the operating environment.
"Implementing a redesigned aft deck is an important part of guaranteeing the long-term viability of the B-2," said Dave Mazur, Northrop Grumman's vice president of Long Range Strike and B-2 program manager. "We are committed to assisting the Air Force in developing and implementing proactive solutions that are in the best interest of the B-2 fleet."