News>Air Force not being stealthy about upgrading B-2 fleet
A B-2 Spirit bomber from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., takes off for a mission during a recent air and space expeditionary force deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Air Force officials are planning numerous upgrades for the B-2 Spirit fleet over its life span. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Val Gempis)
1/2/2007 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- The Air Force isn't being stealthy about plans to upgrade its B-2 Spirit fleet; officials say the bomber will need numerous upgrades over its life span.
Some upgrades are already complete, but others are planned years, even decades ahead, said Lt. Col. Brian Zembraski, 509th Bomb Wing director of staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
"We need to look to the future to the ways to keep up with the changes in technology, improve upon the aircraft, implement those things in any future platforms that the Air Force may move towards," Colonel Zembraski said.
The colonel said the B-2 has already been fitted with improved bomb racks that have increased the number of 500-pound guided bombs these aircraft can carry from 16 to 80, a 500-percent expansion. More important upgrades are coming, he said.
In addition, Colonel Zembraski said improvements have been made to the Spirit's coating, which has reduced maintenance actions from days to minutes.
Next in line for the B-2 is "Link-16," a radio that will feed targeting information directly to individual bombs. Other future upgrades include radar updates, which will enable the B-2's weaponry to reach targets further underground.
"With the capabilities of satellite communications, our ability to get e-mail into the cockpit, direct communications into the cockpit, pictures of the battlefield with Link 16, (it) is absolutely essential to the battlefield of today," the colonel said.