This contract opens a decade-long window for these state-of-the-art components’ comprehensive overhaul and repair.
Raytheon: The firm behind the enhancement of the B-2 Spirit
Awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, Raytheon embarks on the audacious task of refining and refurbishing the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit’s advanced high-frequency radar components, a contract valued at a not inconsiderable $175,050,289. Dollars.
This contract opens a decade-long window for these state-of-the-art components’ comprehensive overhaul and repair. Situated at the cusp of technological development, El Segundo, California, will be the cradle where these enhancements come to life, with completion anticipated on July 31, 2033.
A single-vendor acquisition, this contract represented a commitment of $24,558,473 in operations and maintenance for the fiscal year 2023, marking the strong partnership between Raytheon and the US Air Force Maintenance Center (AFSC).
The B-2 Spirit: More than a stealth bomber
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit distinguishes itself not only as a heavy strategic bomber of American origin but also because of its exceptional low-observable stealth technology, designed to infiltrate high-density anti-aircraft defenses.
This bomber has a dual capability to deliver conventional and thermonuclear weapons. Its arsenal includes eighty GPS-guided 500-pound Mk 82 JDAM bombs or sixteen 2,400-pound B83 nuclear bombs. This gives it the unique honor of being the only aircraft in service recognized as capable of carrying large air-to-surface weapons in a stealthy configuration.
The B-2 Spirit boasts impressive resistance. Capable of attack missions up to 15,000 m, its range without refueling exceeds 11,000 km, and with in-flight refueling, it can exceed 19,000 km.
The revolution in avionics of the B-2 Spirit
In order for the B-2 to become a phenomenon in the theater of operations, its design has integrated numerous advanced avionics systems that have been refined and upgraded after the transition to conventional warfare missions.
Among the featured systems are the AN/APQ-181 low probability of interception multimodal radar, the NAS-26 astroinertial navigation system and the Defensive Management System (DMS). This intelligent system informs the flight crew of threats and potentials.
The DMS was updated in 2021 to detect radar emissions from air defenses and allow for changes to mission planning information during flight, thus allowing new data to be received quickly to plan a route that minimizes exposure to hazards.
State-of-the-art upgrades on the B-2 Spirit
The B-2 Spirit has significantly upgraded its avionics and combat systems. The Link-16 and a high-frequency satellite link for communications have been installed on the battlefield.
In addition, work has been done on compatibility with various new munitions, and the operating frequency of the AN/APQ-181 radar has been changed to avoid interference with the equipment of other operators.
Ultimately, the radar arrays were completely replaced to convert the AN/APQ-181 to an Active Electronically Scanned Radar (AESA), highlighting the constant innovative spirit of this iconic bomber.
Raytheon, a company based in El Segundo, California, has been contracted to implement improvements to the advanced high-frequency radar on Northrop Grumman’s B-2 Spirit. The work, with a contract valued at $175,050,289, involves overhauling and repairing the B-2’s advanced high-frequency radar components and its final components.
Upgrades to the B-2 Spirit’s advanced high-frequency radar will occur in El Segundo, California, where Raytheon is headquartered. The project is expected to finish on July 31, 2033.
Raytheon’s enhancements aim to increase the efficiency of the B-2 Spirit’s high-frequency radar, enabling superior performance in terms of detection, tracking and guidance. This upgrade will be part of a series of improvements made to the B-2’s advanced avionics systems, so it can more effectively perform conventional warfare missions.
The B-2 Spirit is a heavy strategic bomber equipped with stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-air defenses. It can deliver conventional and thermonuclear weapons and is the only recognized aircraft in service that can carry large air-to-surface weapons in a stealthy configuration. It has a non-refueling range of more than 11,000 km and can fly more than 19,000 km with in-flight refueling.
The avionics and combat systems of the B-2 Spirit have undergone several major upgrades over the years. These include the implementation of AN/APQ-181 low probability of interception multimodal radar, a fully digital navigation system integrated with terrain-following radar and guided by the Global Positioning System (GPS), and a Defensive Management System. (DMS) to inform the flight crew of possible threats. In addition, the DMS was updated in 2021 to detect air defense radar emissions and allow for changes to mission planning information during flight.