$442 million Upgrade for The B-52

The Legend
The Legend

The B-52 the legend of the  United States Air Force. The upgrade contact has awarded to Raytheon.

The defense contractor will develop new technology for B-52 and RC-130 aircraft which will allow them to take advantage of anti-jamming communications satellites. The contract is worth $442 million.

Speed 650 mph (Mach 0.86)
Speed 650 mph (Mach 0.86)

This is part of the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) program which is replacing older communication terminals with newer technology that can work during nuclear attacks and use the most secure communications satellites for protected communications.

This will be also used in Presidential and National Voice Conferencing and nuclear command and control.

FAB-T was separated into two separate components in 2015. The Command Post Terminal (CPT) subprogram provides terminals for posts and E-4 and E6 aircraft.

The Force Element Terminal (FET) subprogram is the component that provides terminals for the B-52 and RC-135 planes.

A B-52 taking off from Tinker AFB
A B-52 taking off from Tinker AFB

The contract is for $442,265,464 plus incentive fee. It is undefinitized and is part of the FET subprogram. Raytheon will design, develop, test, integrate and provide logistical support for FET terminals in the two aircraft.

The new terminals will allow the crew onboard these planes to take advantage of three types of satellites – Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites, Enhanced Polar System satellites and legact Milstar satellites.

The B-52 with approximately 70,000 lbs (31,500 kg) mixed ordnance — bombs, smart weapons, mines and missiles. Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles and Miniature Air Launched Decoy.
The B-52 with approximately 70,000 lbs (31,500 kg) mixed ordnance — bombs, smart weapons, mines and missiles. Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles and Miniature Air Launched Decoy.

In addition, the new terminals will allow command and control of all three satellite constellations.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that the FET terminals are essential to the military’s FAB-T program.

They are necessary in order to allow bomber aircraft to communicate with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft as well as CPTs.

The GAO also noted that the program has been delayed so long that the AEHF satellites will all be in orbit before the terminals are ready meaning that the expensive satellites will be in place but not fully utilized.

At the same time, the government also awarded a contract modification to Raytheon for $36,848,806 plus fixed fee.

Under the terms of this agreement, Raytheon will develop a software encryption platform for the system approved by the National Security Administration. The work is expected to be done by March 2023.

In related news, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center issued a Request For Information which seeks industry sources which are capable of supporting the installation of FAB-T Command Post Terminals around the world.

B-52. Speed 650 mph (Mach 0.86)
B-52. Speed 650 mph (Mach 0.86)

The GAO issued a report in May 2019 which indicated that the FAB-T program is expected to begin operating in June 2021 and reach full capability by March 2023.

Raytheon is the primary contractor for the CPT subprogram as well.

Raytheon was founded in 1922 although it didn’t take on its current name until 1959.

It develops electronics and defense systems such as missiles, radar and sonar systems, weapons sensors and targeting systems, communication and battle-management systems and satellite components.

Retired B-52s are stored at the 309th AMARG (formerly AMARC), a desert storage facility often called the “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, Arizona
Retired B-52s are stored at the 309th AMARG (formerly AMARC), a desert storage facility often called the “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, Arizona

They also produce marine electronics such as radar and sonar systems, autopilots and GPS devices.

Raytheon is noted for their work in developing radar technology which had been invented by the British. By then end of World War II, Raytheon made about 80% of all the radar systems.

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Their work on radar technology led to the invention of the microwave oven. They began selling the first consumer countertop microwave ovens in 1967 under the Amana brand name.