Are We Communicating?

Boeing announced Thursday that the inaugural test flight of the first B-52H bomber with upgraded communications gear took place earlier this month at Edwards AFB, Calif. During the three-hour-plus flight on Jan. 17, the aircrew engaged the new combat network communications technology, or CONECT, package to determine that there were no adverse effects on flight-essential systems, said the company. The upgrade allows B-52 aircrews to receive and send real-time, digital information in flight, augmenting current voice-based communications. “Completion of the first test flight brings us one step closer to giving command centers and troops on the ground the ability to communicate with the B-52 through the military’s digital information network,” said Jim Kroening, Boeing B-52 development programs manager. Ground and flight testing will continue through February, after which the aircraft will go to depot for planned maintenance. The upgraded B-52 arrived last August at Edwards.