Wednesday, February 16, 2011

B2 Spirit Block 30 Upgrades

Northrop Grumman has completed the final stage of avionics for the B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber.
Named Block 10, Block20 and Block 30 versions, It has carried out numerous avionics and flight software upgrades ever since the first B-2 was delivered to the USAF in 1994-95.The aircraft is aerodynamically unstable, kept in the air with a quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire (FBW) system, under the control of a General Electric Flight Control Computer (FCC).

The block 10 couldn't fly at full flight loads, lacked precision weapons guidance and terrain following capability, and had a limited DMS ( Digital Mapping system) .In DMS, a collection of data is compiled and formatted into a virtual image. 

The primary function of this technology is to produce maps that give accurate representations of a particular area, detailing major road arteries and other points of interest. The technology also allows the calculation of distances from once place to another , which would enable the B-2 to perform calculated attack missions.

 Eight "Block 20" aircraft were delivered in 1996 and 1997, which were up to operational specification, along with some improvements such as a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation receiver. The GPS receiver system was integrated into a "GPS Aided Targeting System (GATS)" to support the GAM GPS-guided bomb, and later the JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition)and other GPS-guided weapons. 

The Global Positioning System Aided Munition (GAM) was developed by the Air Force and Northrop Grumman Corporation as an interim precision munition for the B-2. GAM is a tail kit that fits on the 2,000-pound Mk84 general purpose bomb [GBU-36/B], or the 4,500 lb BLU-113 penetrator [GBU-37/B]. GAM uses GPS guidance to more accurately guide to target locations.

This weapon is currently the only all-weather, near-precision "bunker busting " capability available.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) Aided Target System [GATS] is an all weather B-2 targeting system which reduces Target Location Error (TLE) normally associated with target coordinates. 

By exploiting the synergistic effects of the B-2s GPS navigation and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities, which combine the SARs excellent range and range rate capabilities with accurate GPS Position and velocity information, it will provide the GAM highly accurate target location relative to current B-2 position.

The ten Block 10s were brought up to Block 20 specification.

Significant Enhancements in Block 30 B-2s:

The Block 20s were followed by two final new-build "Block 30" aircraft, with the older machines brought up to the same specification. 
The Block 30s have avionics improvements, including a satellite communications (SATCOM) link; the lidar contrail-detection system; support for new GPS-guided weapons; and in particular have substantial modifications to improve their stealthiness.

Northrop Grumman has begun flight testing the new computing hardware and communications infrastructure that will eventually allow the B-2 stealth bomber to send and receive battlefield information by satellite more than 100 times faster than today.

The flight test program is part of Increment 1 of the U.S. Air Force's B-2 extremely high frequency (EHF) satellite communications program.

The EHF Increment 1 system that flew includes:

  • A new integrated processing unit developed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration,  will replace up to a dozen current stand-alone avionics computers on the B-2;
  • A new disk drive unit developed by Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems, Plymouth, Minn., will enable transfer of EHF data onto and off of the B-2; and
  • A network of fiber optic cable that will support the high speed data transfers within the aircraft.
Increment 2 involves installation of a new communications terminal and new antennas that will allow the B-2 to transmit and receive information securely via satellite. Increment 3 will integrate the B-2 into the U.S. Department of Defense's Global Information Grid, a worldwide network of information systems, processes and personnel involved in collecting, storing, managing and disseminating information on demand to warfighters, policy makers and military support personnel.

 Adding the new stealth features require stripping off all the aircraft's paint and RAM and performing some airframe changes.


Anonymous said...

Nice blog, very technical too, I am also an aerospace geek, or used to be, I'm trying to create time for it again, I've missed out on a lot so I need to catch up your blog was helpful in that respect.

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