Northrop Grumman Corp. has helped the US Air Force improve the mission availability of its fleet of B-2 stealth bombers by successfully completing the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the B-2 Radar Modernization Program (RMP). SDD includes the design, development, test and installation of the new radar system in a B-2 test aircraft, plus several operational bombers. Installation of the new radar in this first group of B-2s was completed at Whiteman AFB with final spares delivered. Northrop Grumman is the US Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long range strike arsenal.
The Northrop Grumman-led B-2 industry team is currently producing the radar units authorized under the low rate initial production phase (LRIP) of the RMP program, which began in December 2008; and the full rate production phase, which began in November 2009. Installation of the LRIP radar units is expected to begin in mid 2010, with completion of all B-2 RMP radar installations expected to be complete in 2012. The B-2 radar modernization program replaces the aircraft's original radar system with one that incorporates technology improvements that have occurred since the B-2 was originally designed in the early 1980s.
Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems, El Segundo, CA, developed a significant portion of the new radar hardware under contract to Northrop Grumman. The units include a new advanced electronically scanned array antenna, a power supply and a modified receiver/exciter. Other key RMP subcontractors include Lockheed Martin Corp., Owego, NY, and BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Greenlawn, NY.
The B-2 is the only US aircraft that combines stealth, long range, large payload and precision weapons in a single platform. In concert with the Air Force's air superiority fleet, which provides airspace control, and the Air Force's tanker fleet, which enables global mobility, the B-2 helps ensure an effective US response to threats anywhere in the world. It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours. The 20-aircraft fleet of B-2s is operated by the 509th Bomb Wing from its headquarters at Whiteman AFB, MO.