Northrop Grumman to build SATCOM capability for E-6B strategic airborne command post
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 7 Nov. 2013. Northrop Grumman Satellite communications (SATCOM) experts will design advanced satellite communications capability for the U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury strategic airborne command post and communications relay aircraft under terms of an $18.5 million contract announced this week.
Engineers at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Information Systems segment in San Diego will build and install the Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link Ku Line-of-Sight and Ka satellite communications systems for the E6-B for the contract awarded Tuesday by the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.
The Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link (MR-TCDL) 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 E6-B avionics architecture. The job includes software changes to existing software necessary to accommodate the new data flows and data interfaces.
The Boeing E-6 Mercury is an airborne command post and communications relay aircraft that conveyed instructions from the National Command Authority to Navy nuclear ballistic missile submarines, as well as to land-based atomic missiles and nuclear-armed bombers.
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 E-6B has a battlestaff area and new flight deck systems based on modern Boeing 737 aircraft. 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 the current contract Northrop Grumman will do the work in Greenville, Texas; Patuxent River NAS, Md.; and San Diego, and should be finished by November 2015.