Boeing B-52 CONECT
System Completes Flight Test Milestone
By Jim Douglas
December 14, 2011 - Boeing on Monday completed all
flight testing needed for the B-52 Combat Network
Communications Technology (CONECT) program to receive
low rate initial production (LRIP) authorization from
the U.S. Air Force. The flight test program was
conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., by Boeing
and the Air Force.
“Completion of the LRIP flight test phase means CONECT
is ready to be reviewed by our customer for initial
production authorization,” said Scot Oathout, B-52
program director. “CONECT increases B-52 operational
effectiveness by providing improved mission flexibility,
increased situational awareness and new network-centric
capabilities. In addition, CONECT paves the way for
easier integration of future upgrades.”
Milestone C authorization for low-rate initial production is expected in mid-2012. The CONECT modification provides the ability to change a mission, as well as change the target of a weapon, while the B-52 is in flight. The system provides increased situational awareness for B-52 crews by adding several communication data links and full-color LCD displays with real-time intelligence feeds overlaid on moving maps. CONECT also enables future B-52 improvements with its onboard, high-speed network.
Boeing defense programs are required to meet
internal Company criteria ensuring the systems and platforms are
delivered with the inherent ability to seamlessly share data and
voice communications via mobile wireless networks. This
capability known as interoperability is a key tenet of network
centric operations, in which networked systems share information
and are able to dynamically reallocate resources based upon
The Boeing criteria for NCO readiness incorporate customer requirements while helping to ensure the interoperability of enduring Boeing platforms. Boeing Strategic Architecture, the organization that developed the collection of interoperability standards and interfaces known as the Strategic Architecture Reference Model, is responsible for setting the internal criteria and certifying each of the programs.
Compatibility with the SARM is among
Boeing's key internal NCO requirements and ensures Boeing-built
systems remain compatible with standards recommended by the
newly formed Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium, of
which Boeing is a founding member.
milestone is also a solid indication of Boeing's commitment to provide
our nation's warfighters with the networked tools and technologies they
need to prevail in battle and return safely from the fight," said
Strategic Architecture Vice President Carl O'Berry. "It also
demonstrates the adaptability of the reference model as an architecture
approach enabling new systems, such as Future Combat Systems, and Joint
Tactical Radio Systems as well as fielded systems, such as the B-52, to
operate in a network centric environment."
Stratofortress has proven its flexibility over 40 years, from dropping
bombs at 50,000 feet to providing close-air support. Through this
upgrade, these planes will be able to share data seamlessly with the
newest platforms that are now being built.
"We see the B-52
CONECT program as the enabler for Network-Centric operational capability
on the B-52. CONECT will allow B-52 mission transformation through
information integration, both on-board and off-board the aircraft,
creating new warfighting roles not previously anticipated," noted Scot
Oathout, B-52 program manager for the IDS Aerospace Support business.
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