Northrop Grumman has begun flight testing the computing hardware and communications infrastructure for the B-2 stealth bomber, the company announced Thursday.
Since Sept. 1, the company has conducted a series of test flights using a B-2 test aircraft stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The flight test program is part of Increment 1 of the U.S. Air Force's B-2 extremely high frequency (EHF) satellite communications program.
"The flight test program has demonstrated that the EHF Increment 1 computer upgrade system has reached a maturity level that allows us to conduct test sorties beyond the Edwards AFB local area with confidence," said Ron Naylor, Northrop Grumman's director of the EHF Increment 1 development program. "It also adds momentum to our efforts to give the B-2 the high speed data handling infrastructure it will need for critical communications and weapons delivery upgrades in the future."
The EHF Increment 1 system that flew includes: an integrated processing unit developed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration 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 communications terminal and antennas that will allow the B-2. Increment 3 will integrate the B-2 into the U.S. Department of Defense's Global Information Grid.