The Air Force is moving forward with a communications upgrade for the B-2 stealth bomber fleet, announced Air Force Global Strike Command. In late July, the Pentagon authorized the Common Very Low Frequency Receiver Increment 1 system to enter engineering and manufacturing development, states the command’s Sept. 5 release. “CVR Increment 1 will provide the B-2 aircrew another, more reliable means to receive Presidential force direction via emergency action messages,” said Gary Doolittle of the command’s B-2 requirements office. Currently, B-2s use an ultra-high-frequency communications system in that role that functions with Milstar satellites, which are approaching the end of their service lives, said Doolittle. CVR Increment 1, which is on track for fielding in 2017, will enable the B-2s to receive very low-frequency signals that bounce off the lower levels of the atmosphere, bypassing the satellite relay, states the release. While Increment 1 is designed solely for B-2s, a proposed second increment would bring the system to platforms like the B-52 bomber and E-4B airborne command post, said Doolittle. (Barksdale report by A1C Joseph Raatz)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.