Northrop Grumman has revealed that it has been working with the US Air Force (USAF) to continue the modernisation of the B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft fleet.

As part of the efforts, the B-2 aircraft is now capable of launching the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) cruise missile.

The long-range stealth missile flight test was carried out in December 2021, but the company and the USAF have now disclosed the successful testing.

Other enhancements under this effort included integration of Radar Aided Targeting System (RATS).

Last month, the USAF successfully tested the new nuclear RATS on a B-2A aircraft.

The company has also provided crypto modernisation to the aircraft fleet to improve communications security of multiple high-frequency transmissions.

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This capability will allow B-2 aircraft to securely use advanced communication devices in contested environment.

Northop Grumman also carried out a flight test to validate this modern cryptology capability for aircraft.

It was conducted earlier this year at its Oklahoma City Weapons System Support Center site.

Northrop Grumman vice-president and B-2 programme manager Shaugnessy Reynolds said: “The unrivalled capabilities of the B-2 make it the only long range, penetrating stealth bomber currently in US arsenal.

“Committed to continued modernisation of B-2, we’re leveraging our company’s innovation in digital engineering and its decades of leadership in designing and maintaining low observable platforms to keep B-2 Spirit mission ready.”

The latest system advancement is part of integrated functional capability (IFC) P6.4, which was certified by the USAF in 2021.

With IFC capabilities, the B-2 fleet continue to be a crucial component of the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) nuclear triad.

It comes under company’s ongoing initiatives to leverage 21st century technology incorporating digital engineering. 

The initial contract for B-2 modernisation and sustainment was awarded to Northrop Grumman in 2014 and involved an additional option to extend the period until 2024.