SAN DIEGO, 1 July 2012.Military avionics experts from the Northrop Grumman Corp. Information Systems segment in San Diego will integrate high-speed, secure communications and networking systems on a U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury aircraft under terms of a $44.3 million Navy contract announced last week.
The E-6B, which is part of the Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) strategic communications relay mission, is an airborne command post and communications relay based on the Boeing 707-320 four-engine aircraft (story continues below).
The aircraft conveys instructions from the National Command Authority to the Navy's fleet ballistic missile submarines in its TACAMO role, and helps control land-based missiles and nuclear-armed bombers in its Looking Glass role. The E-6B would provide command and control of U.S. nuclear forces should ground-based control become inoperable.
The high-speed, secure communications and networking from Northrop Grumman will enable the E-6B aircraft to connect to secure U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) networks at high data rates during airborne operations, and will enable crew members to access to access information in near real time from worldwide sources without affecting the aircraft's performance, Northrop Grumman officials say.
Northrop Grumman will design and produce networking and communications systems, first integrating the systems into the E-6B Systems Integration Laboratory and then on one E-6B aircraft. The contract from Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., also calls for Northrop Grumman to provide testing, logistics, and training.
Navy leaders say they expect to field the enhanced capability to the entire fleet of E-6B aircraft through a follow-on contract.