Boeing moves ahead with upgrading strategic communications on airborne command post
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla., 9 March 2015. Military strategic communications experts at the Boeing Co. are moving forward on a major project to upgrade a low-frequency airborne communications designed to connect U.S. command authorities with submerged ballistic missile submarines in times of national emergency.
Officials of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., announced a $67.4 million contract modification to Boeing Aerospace Operations Inc. in Oklahoma City, Okla., to design and build the low-frequency transmit system for the Air Force E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post jet.
The E-4B is a converted Boeing 747 jumbo jet for the National Command Authority to use as a survivable command post for control of U.S. forces in all levels of conflict including nuclear war. The plane's new low-frequency transmit system will communicate with submerged U.S. submarines armed with nuclear missiles.
The E-4B flying command post has secondary missions that include VIP travel support and Federal Emergency Management Agency support to provide communications to relief efforts following natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
Boeing has been working on upgrading the E-4B's communications systems for several years, and the contract announced Friday brings the cumulative value of this effort to $433.3 million, Air Force officials say.
The latest contract modification calls for Boeing to provide engineering services to finalize development of the E-4B's low-frequency transmit system, and deliver a prototype aircraft kit for test and evaluation.
Last September Boeing won a $9.8 million modification to the same contract to start designing the low-frequency transmit system. This contract overall calls for Boeing to maintain the E-4B fleet for high availability.
Tasks of the contract include developing electronics and airframe system enhancements and building new communications system improvements using the Air Force System Integration Laboratory.
The E-4B's low-frequency transmit system is part of an overall upgrade to the plane's low-frequency (LF) and very-low-frequency (VLF) systems that are considered obsolete. These systems help command authorities keep touch with submarines deployed underwater that are carrying atomic missiles.
On this contract modification Boeing will do the work in Oklahoma City, Okla., and should be finished by the end of September 2016. Boeing Aerospace Operations is part of the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment.