Venerable B-52 bomber gets network centric

Legendary bomber getting up-to-date network capabilities

One would guess that when its designers saw their first B-52 fly in 1954, they never envisioned nor worried about it being part of network centric warfare.  They might not have guessed the B-52 would still be the key cog in the US Air Force's long-range bombing fleet in 2010, but that's another story. 

But that's what's happening as today is that Boeing said it had successfully completed its first test flight test of a B-52H upgraded with brand spanking new digital network backbone

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The aircraft is outfitted with The Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) technology that now lets B-52H crews send and receive real-time digital information while flying.  

According to Boeing, the CONECT modification installs a high-speed digital communications backbone on the B-52 that lets the aircraft communicate with the Air Force's digital communications network and tie in with Air Force command-and-control centers, ground forces and other platforms. One of the major benefits of the networked platform is that B-52 crews could more easily change missions while in-flight and re-task specific onboard weapons, Boeing stated. 

The Air Force and Boeing recently completed tests on its Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals, or FAB-T system utilized Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellites and was operated jointly by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory and the Electronic Systems Center.  The FAB-T system will ultimately be capable of sending data at rates over 300Mbps, according to Boeing, the lead contractor of the system. 

The systems' main selling points are that it interoperates and can be used to send data, voice and video across the Air Force, Navy and Army extremely high frequency systems. FAB-T also uses a common design and open architecture allow the integration of multiple satellites and is easy to upgrade, the Air Force claims. 

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