A team of officials at the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., last month wrapped up a successful series of flight tests that demonstrated the ability to move text, voice, and data messages using the family of advanced beyond-line-of-sight terminals (FAB-T) that are under development. During the nine flights, personnel onboard ESC’s 707 testbed aircraft passed this information via FAB-T over operational Milstar communications satellites to multiple US locations. Jeff Rattray, a contractor on Hanscom’s FAB-T team said, among the successes, these tests showed that the FAB-T high-gain antenna “can track the satellite during the dynamics of flight.” The Air Force intends to install FAB-T on its bombers, intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft; special-mission platforms, and strategic airlifters so that they can maintain connectivity with rear and deployed forces. In January, the B-2 bomber program office received its first FAB-T unit for integration testing. (Hanscom report by Chuck Paone)
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.