Northrop Grumman said Wednesday that it has begun installing the first set of satellite communications hardware for a B-2 stealth bomber that will eventually allow the jet to send and receive battlefield information up to 100 times faster than its current satellite communications system. The work is being done as part of Increment 1 of the U.S. Air Force's B-2 extremely high frequency (EHF) satellite communications program.
Ground testing of the EHF Increment 1 hardware is planned for March, with flight testing expected to begin in April.
The first "kit" of EHF Increment 1 hardware includes an integrated processing unit (IPU) developed by Lockheed Martin that will replace up to a dozen current stand-alone avionics computers on the B-2; a disk drive unit developed by Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems that will enable transfer of EHF data onto and off of the B-2; and a network of fiber optic cable that will support the high speed data transfers within the aircraft. Increment 2 involves installation of a new communications terminal and new antennas. Increment 3 will integrate the B-2 into the U.S. Department of Defense's Global Information Grid, a worldwide network of information systems, processes and personnel involved in collecting, storing, managing and disseminating information.