The U.S. Air Force fleet of B-2 stealth bombers will be getting an upgrade, courtesy of a new contract with Northrop Grumman.
The $108 million contract, awarded at the end of September, covers new software and hardware that increases the processing power of the plane, creating a more advanced communications suite.
While Northrop is the prime contractor for installation, the parts for the upgrade were designed with a number of partners. The upgrade will include a processing unit designed by Lockheed Martin and a disk drive unit developed by Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems. To support the new processing units, Northrop is also installing a network of fiber-optic cables inside the bomber.
“Every current and future upgrade program for the jet will benefit from the quantum leap in processing power and data handling capacity provided by this new hardware and software,” Ron Naylor, Northrop’s head of B-2 modernization, said in a statement.
First flown in 1989, the B-2 is a key part of the nuclear triad. There are 20 B-2s in the U.S. fleet, with 19 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and one used for flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Air Force officials have pushed for development of a long-range bomber, with new Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh labeling it as one of his key programs.