The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $44.3 million contract to integrate high-speed, secure communications and networking systems on an E-6B Mercury aircraft, part of the Take Charge and Move Outstrategic communications relay mission.
Navy E-6B TACAMO aircraft provide survivable and reliable airborne command, control and communications between the president of the United States, secretary of Defense, and U.S. strategic and nonstrategic forces.
With the Block II Modification, the E-6B aircraft will be able to connect to secure U.S. Department of Defense networks at high data rates while still in flight. The upgrade will enable users on board the aircraft to access mission-essential, near-real-time information from worldwide sources without impacting the operational performance of the aircraft.
“Northrop Grumman’s innovative approach to integration allows the government to rapidly field emerging technologies for vital defense missions such as TACAMO within existing budget constraints,” said Claude Hashem, vice president of network communications systems for Northrop Grumman Information Systems. “The Block II Modification will provide the E-6B community with superior networking capability that enables a significant increase in operational capability.”
Northrop Grumman will design and produce networking and communications systems, first integrating the systems into the E-6B Systems Integration Laboratory and then on a single E-6B aircraft. Under the contract, awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command, Northrop Grumman will also provide testing, logistics and training to support operational fielding.
The Navy intends to field the enhanced capability to the entire fleet of E-6B aircraft through a follow-on contract. Navy E-6B aircraft are used to conduct both the TACAMO and U.S. Strategic Command Aiirborne Command Post missions.