The Giant iPhone Airplane

The Combat Network Communications Technology upgrade for the B-52 bomber will have a strategic effect on the bomber’s capabilities, said Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson. “We have semi-jokingly called it the ‘giant iPhone airplane’” Wilson told Air Force Magazine in late May during an interview at his headquarters at Barksdale AFB, La. This is because the digital technology gear gives the bomber networked, beyond-line-of-sight communications capability, allowing the aircrew to share information with other aircraft and assets and update plans and targets throughout the course of a sortie, thereby complicating an adversary’s defenses, he said. It will also allow for great flexibility for weapons upgrades. “It’s a great bomber, but its forte will be standoff weapons,” said Wilson of the B-52 with CONECT. The first operational B-52 bomber fitted with this technology arrived back home at Barksdale in April, after receiving the upgrade. It will soon resume flight testing to certify the new equipment and data links. The Air Force has long-term plans to upgrade the entire B-52 fleet. Wilson said CONECT-fitted B-52s carrying JASSM cruise missiles, and miniature air launched decoys and jammers “would be a formidable challenge to any adversary.”