Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force (USAF) to design and develop a new satellite communications antenna system for the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

The $372m contract is part of Increment 2 of the B-2 extremely high-frequency (EHF) satellite communications program, aimed at increasing the lethality of the aircraft’s weapon system.

Under the contract, the company will complete the preliminary design of the advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna system, and demonstrate technology readiness and functionality using hardware prototypes.

Northrop is the prime contractor of the three-increment EHF satcom programme, which involves providing enhancements to the aircraft’s processing and communications infrastructure, installation of a new communications terminal and the AESA antenna.

Increment 3 will integrate the B-2 into the US Department of Defense’s global information grid, a worldwide network of information systems.

Work on the contract will take place at the company’s facilities in California, Ohio and Oklahama, US.