Connect or Disconnect

Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. James Kowalski previewed digital communications upgrades to the B-52H bomber on a recent visit to Edwards AFB, Calif., stated command officials in a release. The Combat Network Communications Technology currently undergoing trials at Edwards enables B-52 aircrews to receive digital mission and targeting updates in flight. Networked via satellite data links, CONECT’s capabilities are “increasingly important to combat the ‘tyranny of distance’ posed by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean,” said Col. Rick Mitchell, bomber requirements boss at Edwards, in the May 13 release. Even though the Air Force proposed scaling back the scope of CONECT in Fiscal 2013, “the bottom line is the requirement from that capability remains and we’re going to continue to advocate for [it],” Kowalski told a Senate oversight panel in March. Budgetary constraints forced the Air Force to rework CONECT, but given long-range strike’s importance in the Pacific, “we are looking now at options to bring it back,” he stated then.