Northrop Grumman Corp. is developing a new antenna system meant to enable the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber to send and receive battlefield information securely by satellite up to 100 times faster than it can today, the Los Angeles-based company announced May 9.
Preliminary work on the advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna system is happening under a $372 million contract the U.S. Air Force recently awarded Northrop Grumman as part of the B-2 EHF satellite communications program.
Under the terms of the contract, Northrop Grumman, the Air Force’s prime contractor for the B-2, will complete preliminary design of the AESA antenna system, demonstrate technology readiness and prove its functionality using hardware prototypes, according to the company.
“Our work on the EHF antenna system takes full advantage of Northrop Grumman’s expertise not only in B-2 advancement, but also in satellite communications,” Dave Mazur, vice president of long range strike and B-2 program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector, said in a statement. “This important enhancement will ensure that the B-2 retains its strategic communications capabilities well into the future.”
The EHF satcom program consists of three increments. The first increment includes enhancements to the aircraft’s processing and communications infrastructure. The second increment, under which the AESA work is taking place, involves installation of a new communications terminal and the AESA antenna. The third increment entails integrating the B-2 into the U.S. Defense Department’s Global Information Grid, a worldwide network of information systems, processes and personnel involved in collecting, storing, managing and disseminating information on demand to warfighters, policymakers and military support personnel.