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Boeing to Modernize 10 More B-52s With CONECT Digital Communications Upgrade

The B-52 Stratofortress bomber first flew more than 60 years ago, and was built for Cold War missions, but the digital capabilities packed inside the old airframe are entering the 21st century through the ongoing Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) upgrade, according to a Boeing release.

“CONECT gives the B-52 the agility and flexibility needed for the modern battlefield while also providing greater situational awareness for the aircrew,” said Scot Oathout, Boeing’s B-52 program director.

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a full rate production contract Jan. 28, 2014, for 10 more CONECT kits to modernize communication systems for its fleet of B-52 Stratofortresses. The upgrades include “full-color LCD displays with real-time intelligence feeds overlaid on moving maps, several communication data links that connect via satellite to platforms and troops in the field and an onboard, high speed network that enables aircrew to respond quickly to a mission change or identify and engage new targets with their weapons,” the release stated.

“CONECT gives the B-52 the agility and flexibility needed for the modern battlefield while also providing greater situational awareness for the aircrew,” said Scot Oathout, Boeing’s B-52 program director.

Air Force personnel install CONECT kits at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, during regularly scheduled programmed depot maintenance on the venerable strategic bombers. The service has been steadily making incremental upgrades to the B-52 fleet.

Boeing was already supplying 20 CONECT kits to the Air Force under a previous contract, and the new full rate production award will bring the total number of upgraded B-52s to 30.