Northrop Grumman will help drive down costs and speed the availability of new hardware and software upgrades for the B-2 stealth bomber under a recently awarded contract from the U.S. Air Force.
The contract covers Technology Development (TD) Phase 2 of a multiyear effort by Northrop Grumman to modernize the B-2’s defensive management system (DMS). TD Phase 2 is expected to last approximately three years.
DMS is an electronic warfare system that includes various antennas and display processors. Northrop Grumman is the Air Force’s prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal.
“TD Phase 2 is the cornerstone of a rapid acquisition initiative that Northrop Grumman and the government developed to reduce B-2 DMS modernization costs and accelerate the availability of the latest technologies for the aircraft,” said Lauren Stevens, director of the company’s B-2 DMS modernization integrated product team.
“Instead of relying on new hardware and software development, our initiative takes advantage of mature, proven technologies. It minimizes nonrecurring costs, and reduces the time and technology risks associated with fielding new capabilities.”
DMS modernization includes a new avionics graphics processor being developed by Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Owego, N.Y.; and new antennas, which are being developed by L3 Randtron, Menlo, Park, Calif., and Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colo.
Northrop Grumman serves as the B-2 system integrator and developer of the architecture that determines how the aircraft responds to threat environments. In this role, the company will integrate all new DMS hardware and requisite software onto the jet.
“The DMS upgrades demonstrate how Northrop Grumman is using innovation and thoughtful engineering to address and fulfill key affordability goals of the Department of Defense,” explained Ron Naylor, director of B-2 Modernization and Transformation for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
“They also help ensure that the B-2 will remain the nation’s most survivable and most effective long-range strike system for dealing with sophisticated enemy threats.”
TD Phase 2 of the DMS modernization program will include continued development and testing of the hardware and software for the new systems; evaluation, down-select and awarding of the contract for the new DMS antennas; and preparation by Northrop Grumman and its suppliers for the next phase of DMS modernization, known as engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD).
As part of its plan to reduce costs and fielding schedules, Northrop Grumman accelerated forward into TD Phase 2 many significant engineering tasks normally conducted during EMD. EMD is expected to begin in late 2014.
The B-2 is the only long-range, large-payload U.S. aircraft that can penetrate deeply into access-denied airspace. In concert with the Air Force’s air superiority fleet, which provides airspace control, and the Air Force’s tanker fleet, which enables global mobility, the B-2 can help protect U.S. interests anywhere in the world.
It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours.