Leaping out of the 1980s

Replacing 286 computer processors and a host of other 1980s-vintage analog technologies is at the core of the comprehensive B-2 bomber upgrade program, said Dave Mazur, Northrop Grumman’s B-2 program manager, on Thursday. “We’re really building a new B-2 from the inside out,” said Mazur at a company press conference in Washington, D.C. The overall B-2 upgrade is intended to permit the bomber to continue to serve through 2058; it includes many avionics improvements, common line-replaceable units, new antennas, satellite connectivity, and a fiberoptic backbone to bring the B-2 up to modern standards. The changes will eliminate parts supply problems that have affected the bomber’s readiness, said Mazur. The B-2 Radar Modernization Program is already done, having wrapped in December, ahead of schedule, he noted during the Feb. 14 event. During programmed depot maintenance, Northrop Grumman also resurfaces the B-2, making sure the airplane’s “outer mold line” meets stealth requirements and ensuring that it can operate in an anti-access/area-denial battlefield. The company announced on Thursday that it recently received a contract covering phase-two development of an update to the B-2’s Defense Management System.