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Showing Off: B-2 Bomber Demo's Enhanced Ability to Deliver 'Smart' Weapons

Five Times the "Impact"

Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems sector and the US Air Force have successfully demonstrated the operation of a new smart bomb rack assembly (SBRA) that increases the B-2 stealth bomber's capacity to deliver smart (GPS-guided) weapons by a factor of five.

In a test conducted Sept. 10 at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, a B-2 stealth bomber successfully released 80 independently targeted guided weapons against 80 separate targets. The B-2 released the weapons in a single pass. The test marks the first time an aircraft has delivered this many guided independently targeted weapons at one time.

Northrop Grumman, the Air Force's B-2 prime contractor, managed the development of the SBRA system. It allows the B-2 to carry, power, control, target and release as many as 80 MIL-STD-1760 smart weapons, five times its current capacity of 16.

"This test was the crowning achievement in what's been a very successful joint effort by Northrop Grumman and the Air Force to enhance the B-2's ability to put weapons on target," said Mike Galaway, Northrop Grumman's program manager for the SBRA. "It's part of our corporate commitment to continually enhance the capabilities of the nation's number-one long-range strike asset." The test is a precursor to fielding an operational SBRA capability in late 2004, he added.

The test weapon was an inert GBU-38, a 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon produced by The Boeing Company, a major subcontractor to Northrop Grumman on the SBRA program. JDAM uses a low-cost guidance kit to convert conventional "unguided" gravity-bombs into GPS-guided "smart" weapons. Northrop Grumman is responsible for integrating the Boeing JDAM weapon with the B-2. The JDAM is the first smart weapon to take advantage of the new smart bomb rack capability.

Northrop Grumman is nearing completion of a $130.8 million Air Force contract awarded in January 2001 to develop the SBRA system. The development included substantial hardware and software modifications to the B-2. In April 2003, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman an additional contract to begin conversion of a total of 45 existing B-2 bomb rack assemblies to the new configuration. Nine previously were converted during the development phase of the program. The company is performing the production under a three-phase modification plan, with the first phase scheduled to run through August 2004. Total value of the production work, scheduled to run through the first quarter of 2006, is $31.7 million.

FMI: www.af.mil, www.northropgrumman.com

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