Story by Tinker Public Affairs
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex just completed on-time delivery of its first B-52 Stratofortress retrofitted with an upgrade that allows the bomber to meet the digital demands of modern war.
A B-52 crew from Tinker’s 10th Flight Test Squadron, flew the airplane home to Barksdale AFB April 21, with state of the art displays, servers and communications uplinks installed as part of the Combat Network Communications Technology upgrade.
The aircraft arrived at Tinker in July 2013 and the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group performed the work, which will allow the aircraft platform, born more than 60 years ago, to remain viable in the Air Force inventory to at least 2040.
“It is taking the B-52 from a rotary-dial phone to a smartphone,” said Alan Williams, Deputy Program Element Monitor at Air Force Global Strike Command, when the program was announced.
“Now the crews will be able to do final mission planning enroute,” Williams said. “They will be able to get targeting updates; they will be able to get intelligence updates, all while they are en route so that they can get the most current data.”
The beyond line of sight, or BLOS, communications ability introduced in the CONECT upgrades will allow for a central air operations center to pass along updated threat and targeting data to the aircraft for rapid machine-to-machine retargeting, rather than having the crew and mission be dependent solely upon information available at take-off.
“The aircraft will be much more effective and safe for the crew because of being able to receive those threat and target updates,” Williams said, adding that CONECT will also allow the aircrew to receive last-minute updates so that they are able to strike the most current or necessary targets and do it rapidly because of the new machine-to-machine targeting capability.
Eventually, every B-52 in the inventory will come through the maintenance line at the OC-ALC to receive the new technology, providing the fleet with a “digital backbone” compatible with additional networking and system upgrades.
This story incorporates information and quotes from an AFGSC Public Affairs Story by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz, publish July 26, 2013.