B-52 Digital Upgrade Advances

Boeing announced receipt of a $76 million contract to continue work on the Combat Network Communications Technology program that is adding new digital displays and communications systems to the Air Force’s B-52 bombers. The contract covers low-rate initial production of the first CONECT kits, along with spare parts and maintenance and service at Tinker AFB, Okla., states the company’s May 7 release. Tinker is home to the B-52 depot. Installation of the kits is slated to begin in the latter part of 2014, according to the release. The CONECT gear will allow B-52 aircrews to have access to information via satellite links, giving them the flexibility to “change mission plans and retarget weapons in flight, and better interact with aircraft and ground forces,” states the release. The aircrews can currently upload mission information only before a flight, but not during it. Air Force Global Strike Command chief Lt. Gen. James Kowalski told lawmakers in mid-April that the Air Force “continues to pursue funding to complete” CONECT. (See also Connect or Disconnect.)