Boeing has received a contract to supply additional combat network communications technology (CONECT) upgrade kits for the US Air Force’s (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers.
Under the full rate production contract, the company will manufacture and supply ten CONECT kits that are designed to modernise B-52’s communication systems now and in the future.
The latest contract, along with previously awarded contracts, brings the total number of CONECT kits ordered to date by the air force to 30.
Boeing B-52 programme director Scot Oathout said: "CONECT gives the B-52 the agility and flexibility needed for the modern battlefield while also providing greater situational awareness for the aircrew."
The CONECT kits bring an array of technology enhancements to the bomber, including full-colour LCD displays with real-time intelligence feeds overlaid on moving maps. They also supply a high-speed network that enables aircrew to respond quickly to a mission change or identify and engage new targets with their weapons.
Furthermore, the upgrades introduce the beyond line of sight communications ability, which enables transmission of updated threat and targeting data from a central air operations centre to the aircraft, for rapid machine-to-machine retargeting.
The CONECT kits are installed by the USAF personnel at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in conjunction with the B-52’s regularly scheduled programmed depot maintenance.
The kits eliminate the requirement for the crew and mission to solely depend upon information available at takeoff.
Additional contract details, including the value and delivery schedule, remain undisclosed.
The B-52 Stratofortress is powered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3 turbofan engines. It is a long-range, subsonic, strategic bomber designed to carry and fire both nuclear and conventional munitions for deterrence missions.
The aircraft entered service with the USAF in 1955, and is also operated by the US Navy for anti-surface and submarine warfare operations.
Image: A USAF B-52H Stratofortress bomber at Edwards Air force base, California, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force / Bobbi Zapka.