Honeywell, Aeroflex to upgrade B-1 bomber flight-control system

TINKER AFB, Okla., 10 June 2005. U.S. Air Force avionics specialists are turning to a team of Honeywell Defense Avionics Systems in Albuquerque, N.M., and Aeroflex Inc. in Plainview, N.Y., to upgrade the flight-control systems on the nation's fleet of B-1B strategic jet bombers.

TINKER AFB, Okla., 10 June 2005. U.S. Air Force avionics specialists are turning to a team of Honeywell Defense Avionics Systems in Albuquerque, N.M., and Aeroflex Inc. in Plainview, N.Y., to upgrade the flight-control systems on the nation's fleet of B-1B strategic jet bombers.

Honeywell and Aeroflex are designing solid-state hybrid microcircuits to replace the 1960s-vintage analog electronic "cordwood modules" that populate the B-1's outdated flight-control system.

This acquisition is a part of the Air Force's Cordwood Module Program that involves a complete retrofit of the entire B-1B fleet, including installs and spares, Air Force officials say. The requested hybrid microcircuit quantities are to be immediately installed on the B-1B fleet upon receipt.

Honeywell and Aeroflex are working under terms of an $11.1 million contract awarded June 9 from the 48th Combat Sustainment Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Work is to be finished by June 2006.

"The hybrid technology is all solid state, is a smaller component, and is much more immune to shock and vibration; it's a much more rugged technology," explains Joseph Castaldo, director of sales and marketing for microelectronics at Aeroflex.

Honeywell Defense Avionics is the original equipment manufacturer of the B-1's cordwood module-based flight-control system. Aeroflex has the expertise in hybrid circuitry that Honeywell needed for the job.

"They looked around the B-1 bomber and realized that one of the most reliable things on that aircraft are hybrids," Castaldo says. "They got the idea that if they could replace the cordwood modules with hybrid microcircuits, they could upgrade the system and improve their maintenance."

The project also has unanticipated advantages. "Their flight-control system is much more stable now because the resistors we used in the hybrids, which are thin-film resistor technology, are very stable over temperature and time -- much more than the old-style carbon and film resistors that they replace," Castaldo says.

The new hybrid circuits are pin-for-pin compatible with the cordwood modules they replace, which simplifies the upgrade, Castaldo says.

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