The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) recently implemented the Internet Protocol Bandwidth Expansion (IBPE) upgrade on its airborne strategic command platform, the E-6B Mercury. The upgrade was installed in March during a service life extension program (SLEP) on aircraft 410, part of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4 at Tinker AIr Force Base, Okla.
(E-6B Mercury. Photo, courtesy of NAVAIR.)
The upgrade is an expanded secure local area computer network consisting of two live feeds for the E-6B, an ultra-high frequency line of sight digital data feed used while operating over the United States and a commercial Inmarsat satellite feed for use when operating outside the U.S. IBPE replaces about 5,000 pounds of backup equipment with racks of IPBE servers and routers, similar to those that run military computer networks.
“The biggest benefit IPBE brings to the fleet is providing faster, more reliable internet access to information, both classified and unclassified, to the battle staff onboard the aircraft,” said Capt. Dana Dewey, E-6 Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office's (PMA-271) program manager. “Now, the general officers and the battle staff have almost the same level of operational capability as if they were working in their regular offices.”
NAVAIR has outfitted four E-6Bs with the upgrade, one test aircraft and three VQ-4 fleet aircraft. Twelve additional E-6Bs are scheduled to receive the upgrade, with the latest installation occurring in 2019.
Related: Military Avionics News