Installation of the Combat Network Communications Technology upgrade for the B-52H bomber fleet is scheduled to commence this month at the B-52 depot at Tinker AFB, Okla., according to a base release. The first B-52 to receive the new communications gear will enter programmed depot maintenance at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex in July for installation of the equipment, a process expected to take nine months to complete, states the June 25 release. “We are bringing this amazing workhorse of a bomber into the digital age and giving our customer the infrastructure necessary for continued future improvements,” said Scot Oathout, Boeing’s B-52 program director. The company is the prime contractor for the upgrade. CONECT, as it is known, will give B-52 aircrews the ability to alter mission plans and retarget weapons during a mission as well as interact more precisely with other aircraft and ground forces. The current technology allows them to upload mission information only prior to a sortie, according to the release. Boeing announced in May that it had received the first contract for low-rate production of the CONECT kits. (Tinker report by Mike W. Ray)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.