[Avionics Today February 5, 2014] Northrop Grumman is ready to begin demonstrating a faster and more affordable way to replace obsolete avionics on the U.S. Air Force's fleet of B-2 stealth bombers.
In August, the Air Force issued a 43-month $43.5 million award to Northrop to produce a functional replacement for the B-2's Audio Central Distribution Unit (ACDU). Now, one of the nation's largest aerospace and defense contractor's is ready to demonstrate its replacement.
"Northrop Grumman 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 to do custom replacements for those units," said Dave Mazur, vice president and B-2 program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The ACDU will be the first B-2 avionics Line Replaceable Unit [LRU] to be produced using this approach."
According to Mazur, a number of LRUs on the B-2 are facing obsolescence either because the company that originally produced the LRU is out of business or no longer able to produce the unit. The common processor uses common hardware elements in unique combinations to create different types of LRUs suitable for B-2 upgrades.
"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," said Mazur. "This approach will reduce avionics sustainment costs and help improve aircraft availability."
Northrop delivered the first operational B-2 to the U.S. Air Force in 1993.