Navy asks Raytheon Collins Aerospace to upgrade mission computer avionics for E-6B communications aircraft

April 22, 2021
The Boeing E-6 Mercury is an airborne command post and communications relay aircraft based on the 1950s-vintage stretched Boeing 707-320 jetliner.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Avionics computer experts at Raytheon Technologies Corp. will roughly double the power of the mission computer aboard the U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury strategic airborne command post and communications relay aircraft under terms of a $16.9 million order announced last month.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command are asking the Raytheon Collins Aerospace segment in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to upgrade the E-6B mission computer from a 32-bit to a 64-bit Linux-based operating system to increase capability and reduce threat vulnerabilities.

The Boeing E-6B Mercury is an airborne command post and communications relay aircraft based on the 1950s-vintage stretched Boeing 707-320 narrow-body passenger jetliner. compared to the original 707 jetliner, the E-6 Mercury has new engines and other system upgrades.

Related: Rockwell Collins and L-3 deliver Block I modernization including avionics for Navy E-6B

The plane conveys instructions from the National Command Authority to deployed Navy nuclear ballistic missile submarines, as well as to land-based atomic missiles and nuclear-armed bombers.

Last year Navy officials ordered advanced satellite communications (SATCOM) capabilities for the E-6B from the Northrop Grumman Mission Systems segment in Herndon, Va. Northrop Grumman installed the Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link (MR-TCDL) aboard E-6B Mercury aircraft.

The E-6 Mercury's MR-TCDL provides secure Ku line-of-sight and Ka SATCOM systems for the E-6B aircraft. The data link includes two Ku line-of-sight channels and one Ka satellite communications channel. Other equipment includes power conditioning, cooling, electrical, and network distribution. The system also has equipment that interfaces Block II B kits into the existing E-6B avionics architecture.

Related: ARINC to modify four Navy E-6B Mercury planes for Rockwell Collins

The E-6B provides command and control of U.S. nuclear forces should ground-based control become inoperable. The plane is based on the four-engine Boeing 707 passenger jetliner.

The plane has a battle staff area and new flight deck systems based on modern Boeing 737 avionics. The E-6 flew in 1987, and the first E-6B was accepted in December 1997. The last production E-6B was delivered to the Navy in late 2006.

On this order Collins Aerospace will do the work in Richardson, Texas, and should be finished by March 2023. For more information contact Raytheon Collins Aerospace online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

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