Boeing has won a $15 million contract to develop advanced targeting capabilities for the B-52H bomber, the company announced Sept. 24. Included in this work will be software upgrades to improve upon how the flight crew transmits video and targeting information from the bomber’s targeting pod—either Northrop Grumman’s Litening or Lockheed Martin’s Sniper—to other friendly forces via better use of new technologies like the B-52 multi-function color display and a digital-integrated hand controller. Cathy Clothier, Boeing’s B-52 deputy program manager, said the contract also covers “full integration of the Sniper” on the platform. Testing of the new capabilities will begin in 2009. They are scheduled to be integrated onto the entire B-52 fleet by the following year, Boeing said. Earlier this month, two B-52s carrying Litening targeting pods flew missions after Hurricane Ike to surveil parts of the Texas Coast and help assess damage to infrastructure, displaying a new humanitarian-relief role for the venerable platforms.
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.