B-2 Upgrades Under Way

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The B-2 Stealth Bomber has been flying for almost 20 years, according to Dave Mazure, vice president of long-range strike, Northrop, and it's never had a computer processor upgrade -- now, the Air Force wants to change that. Together with Northrop Grumman, the Air Force hopes to introduce new technology, including a new digital "active electronically scanned array" radar currently in testing, according to the Air Force Times; replacement of tube-based cockpit displays with nine flat-panel screens; and an upgrade to computer processing units, disc drives and fiber optics cables. Upgrading communications systems will require cutting holes in the B-2's fuselage to internally mount two 300-pound satellite dishes. The aircraft's current X-band radar frequency has already been sold to a commercial user. By the end of 2010, the B-2's radar upgrade should be complete on six bombers with fleet-wide approval expected in 2013 ... ensuring it will be approximately five years old when it's introduced to the fleet. The program is expected to cost more than $1.14 billion.