B-52s Get Situational Awareness Boost

A select few B-52 bombers have received the Evolutionary Data Link upgrade for improved communications between the bombers’ aircrews and ground troops. All B-52s are scheduled to have the laptop computers, wiring, and software associated with EDL by mid-2012. “The B-52 fleet has always been an important asset with the ability to directly support ground combat personnel. EDL adds additional functionality and utility to our B-52 bomber fleet,” said Col. John Fisher, B-52 sustainment division chief at Tinker AFB, Okla. It’s designed to allow the aircrew to differentiate “where a target and friendly forces are in relation to each other,” using digital overlay map symbols, thereby “lowering potential fratricide or collateral damage,” said Roderick Lees, EDL program manager. EDL is meant to be a bridge capability until the B-52 fleet gets the more robust Combat Network Communications Technology upgrade. (Tinker report by Brandice J. O’Brien)