Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract to demonstrate a faster, simpler way for replacement of obsolete parts for the US Air Force’s (USAF) B-2 Spirit stealth bomber aircraft.
Under the terms of the $43.5m contract, the company will map out a smart, cost-effective way for replacement of mission-essential parts that cannot be repaired or easily replaced, to help address a growing threat to the bomber’s readiness.
Specifically, the company will produce a functional replacement for a B-2 avionics line replaceable unit (LRU), called the audio central distribution unit (ACDU).
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems vice-president and B-2 programme manager Dave Mazur said the company has developed a concept called the common processor to create same-size, functional replacements for many of the B-2’s most critical avionics units in a fraction of the time and cost required for custom replacements for those units.
Mazur said, "One of the most powerful features of the common processor is that it will allow B-2 maintainers to use one common set of test equipment for all of the replacement LRUs.
"This approach will reduce avionics sustainment costs and help improve aircraft availability."
Achieved by taking advantage of functional similarities among current avionics LRUs on the B-2, the common processor concept is expected to be used for replacement of the bomber’s 21 different current LRUs identified by both the company and USAF.
An increasing number of B-2 LRUs face or will soon face obsolescence, according to Mazur.
Manufactured by Northrop, the B-2 Spirit is a low-observable, strategic, long-range heavy bomber designed to penetrate complex air-defence shields and deploy conventional and nuclear weapons.
Work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out over the next 43 months.
Image: A USAF B-2 Spirit stealth bomber flies over Kansas, US. Photo:courtesy of USAF Senior Airman Courtney Witt/Released.