Northrop has been awarded a contract by the US Navy to provide Block II modification for its E-6B Mercury aircraft.
The Naval Air Systems Command has awarded the contract as a part of take charge and move out (TACAMO) strategic communications relay mission programme.
Northrop Grumman Information Systems vice president of network communications systems Claude Hashem said: "Northrop Grumman's innovative approach to integration allows the government to rapidly field emerging technologies for vital defence missions, such as TACAMO, within existing budget constraints."
"The block II modification will provide the E-6B community with superior networking capability that enables a significant increase in operational capability," Hashem added.
Under the $44.3m contract, the company will integrate high-speed, secure communications and networking systems onboard the E-6B Mercury aircraft, enabling it to connect to secure US Department of Defense (DoD) networks at high data rates while still in flight.
The modification to the aircraft will also enable users onboard the aircraft to access mission-essential, near-real-time information from various sources without affecting the aircraft's operational performance.
The company will also provide testing, logistics and training to support operational fielding as a part of the contract.
Northrop will develop networking and communications systems to integrate into the E-6B systems integration laboratory, after then the systems will be equipped onboard a single E-6B aircraft.
Capable of conducting both TACAMO and US Strategic Command Airborne Command Post missions, the US Navy's E-6B aircraft has been designed to provide survivable and reliable airborne command, control and communications between US strategic and nonstrategic forces.
The navy is planning a follow-on contract to enhance the capabilities of the entire fleet of E-6B aircraft, which can carry anti-radiation missiles (ARM), including shrike and harm missiles.
Image: A US Navy's E-6B Mercury aircraft stationed at the Mojave Airport. Photo: courtesy of Alan Radecki Akradecki.