Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stealth B-2 Bomber Upgrades Detailed

Via -

A fresh wave of structures, systems and weapons upgrades is being rolled into the Northrop Grumman B-2 as part of efforts to keep the stealth bomber in the front line to 2050 and beyond.


A key upgrade recovering from a slow start is the delayed B-2 radar modernization program (RMP). Under the RMP, the mechanically scanned antenna of the Raytheon APQ-181 Ku-band multimode navigation and attack radar is being replaced with an active electronically scanned array (AESA). The effort is now well underway, with five aircraft expected to be flying by year-end. Northrop Grumman, which manages the RMP, was awarded a $382-million system development and demonstration (SDD) contract by the Air Force in 2004.

Integration and other issues stalled the RMP and forced Northrop Grumman and El Segundo, Calif.,-based Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems to set up a "tiger team" to get the effort back on track, says Northrop Grumman vice president and B-2 program manager Dave Mazur. "A lot of decisions were being made and technical risks being pushed down the road to meet a ‘need date,' so we basically said ‘let's stop and re-group,'" he adds.

The upgrade, which also included a new power supply and modified receiver/exciter as well as the AESA antennae (two per shipset), was instigated because of an upcoming frequency spectrum conflict with emerging digital TV satellite signals. However, the hold-ups have had a knock-on effect because the RMP was designed in conjunction with other systems upgrades as part of efforts to provide the bomber with an "open architecture" for later modifications. "It's basically two years late, and all the upgrades are backed up," says Wheeler. "Now my biggest drawback is getting enough aircraft because they're going through the upgrades."

No comments:

Post a Comment