The Boeing B-52H Stratofortress, a jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the US Air Force, has successfully completed its first test flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US.

During the test flight, the aircraft underwent an initial system build-up test, interphone and communication test as well as power-on of each system in-flight to ensure no adverse effects on flight-essential systems.

The upgraded B-52H with Combat Network Communications Technology enables pilots to receive and send real-time digital information during their missions.

Boeing B-52 Development Programs manager Jim Kroening said completion of the first test flight brings command centers and troops on the ground one step closer to having the ability to communicate with the B-52 through the military’s digital information network.

“Augmenting current voice-based communication gives B-52 crews greater situational awareness and significantly enhanced mission capabilities,” Kroening said.

Ground and flight tests will continue throughout February, after which the aircraft will rotate through its scheduled depot maintenance at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The ground and flight tests will resume in January 2011 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.