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Preliminary Design Review completed for B-2 Bomber software upgrade


B-2 Spirit Bomber. Photo: Northrop Grumman Corporation

OKLAHOMA CITY (BNS): Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed a major U S Air Force review of a new software upgrade for the B-2 stealth bomber.

The PDR was conducted on 26-27 February 2014 at Northrop Grumman's B-2 facility in Oklahoma City, the Global Security Company said.

The upgrade is part of the Air Force's Flexible Strike Phase 1 programme.

For the Flexible Strike Phase 1 programme, the company plans to replace multiple operational flight programs (OFP) - embedded software that allows the B-2 to communicate accurately with the equipment that holds and dispenses its weapons - with a single OFP. The upgrade is expected to improve B-2 mission effectiveness.

The Flexible Strike programme is the first B-2 modernisation effort to take advantage of the enhanced communications infrastructure Northrop Grumman created for the first increment of the B-2 EHF satellite communications programme.

Those improvements included faster processors; a fibre optic network and increased onboard data storage, all of which help the bomber manage more information at higher speeds.

The B-2 is the only long-range, large-payload U S aircraft that can penetrate deeply into access-denied airspace, and the only combat-proven stealth platform in the current U S inventory.

It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refuelling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours.

Northrop Grumman is the US Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2.

"We're simplifying the software used by the B-2 to manage its weapons," explained Dave Mazur, vice president and B-2 programme manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

"Today we have several standalone programmes that each manages a specific type of mission. We're replacing that software with a single programme that can manage all of those mission types."

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