B-52 Communications Upgrade Set to Begin

Installation of the Combat Network Communications Technology upgrade for the B-52H bomber fleet is scheduled to commence this month at the B-52 depot at Tinker AFB, Okla., according to a base release. The first B-52 to receive the new communications gear will enter programmed depot maintenance at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex in July for installation of the equipment, a process expected to take nine months to complete, states the June 25 release. “We are bringing this amazing workhorse of a bomber into the digital age and giving our customer the infrastructure necessary for continued future improvements,” said Scot Oathout, Boeing’s B-52 program director. The company is the prime contractor for the upgrade. CONECT, as it is known, will give B-52 aircrews the ability to alter mission plans and retarget weapons during a mission as well as interact more precisely with other aircraft and ground forces. The current technology allows them to upload mission information only prior to a sortie, according to the release. Boeing announced in May that it had received the first contract for low-rate production of the CONECT kits. (Tinker report by Mike W. Ray)