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September 28, 2023 4:52 am

Science And Aerospace

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B-52 Testing New AgilePod For Advanced Communications

B-52 AgilePod

B-52 AgilePod
The AgilePod-26 carried by a U.S. Air Pressure B-52H throughout a floor check. (Picture credit score: Jacobs)

The B-52 is collaborating within the demo of the brand new AgilePod for superior communications capabilities.

The B-52 Stratofortress is concerned in a massive upgrade program that’s going to maintain it on the forefront of the U.S. strategic bomber fleet via a minimum of 2050. In reality, as defined in detail prior to now few months, the enduring nuclear bomber is getting new engines, new radar, new cockpit with new multifunction digital shows, and likewise new weapons.

And, amongst all the opposite issues, the B-52J (because the re-engined Stratofortress shall be designated), may also be outfitted with superior communication programs made out there by the brand new AgilePod. The latter, is a multi-function pod that may combine superior communications capabilities for the B-52 throughout all domains and improve information switch, weapon employment, and supply fast options to rising threats. And this would be the focus of an imminent demo.

B-52 AgilePod
Airmen from the 307th Plane Upkeep Squadron load an AgilePod onto a B 52 Stratofortress, at Barksdale Air Pressure Base, Louisiana, Jan. 10, 2023. The AgilePod is a multi-function pod constructed to combine superior communications capabilities for the B-52 throughout all domains. (U.S. Air Pressure picture by Airman 1st Class Nia Jacobs)

“Our aim is to speed up and combine disruptive applied sciences onto the B-52, B-1, and presumably different patrol-class plane,” mentioned Nate Daybreak, Chief of the AFGSC Strategic Plans and Applications Modernization, Integration, and Know-how Transition Department, in a public assertion.

“The AgilePod TENTaCLE (Tactical Edge Community Concentrating on in a Contested Lengthy-Vary Setting) program began as an OSD Speedy Prototyping Program, which permits us to shortly present these must our bombers with out the years-long timelines required for a everlasting modification to the plane,” mentioned Daybreak.

The AgilePod®-26 used for the B-52 demo, is a standards-based multi-mission pod designed by Jacobs company to hold Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Over The Horizon (OTH) communications payloads: “The imaginative and prescient of your complete DoD AgilePod enterprise was to create a household of various sized, open-system, standards-based pods, designed round totally different plane courses, to streamline the trail to ship new improvements on the pace of relevance. If a patrol class plane, air refueler, army airlift, civilian by-product plane or heavy bomber is provided with exterior retailer suspension tools rated to 1,500 kilos then it’s eligible to carriage a missionized AgilePod-26, creating a real ‘Swiss-Military Knife’ within the air. If the subsequent revolution in autonomy, machine studying, lengthy vary persistent surveillance or airborne satellite tv for pc communications protocols might be configured to slot in the AgilePod-26 86” L x 26” W x 28” H midbody bay and/or within the further 11.7 ft3 of nostril and tail quantity, and might be saved throughout the pod’s mass and CG bounds, that future system is certainly one of a number of potential configurations coated by the SEEK EAGLE restricted flight clearance request Jacobs submitted for that class of plane.”

The AgilePod-26 (Jacobs)

In different phrases, the AgilePod permits the short integration of latest applied sciences on present licensed platforms chopping quick the earlier integration course of that will have required the corporate that developed a novel airborne information and communications system to interact with the totally different plane procurement and sustainment workplaces and design a customized packaging and integration answer to host that information/comms node on that particular platform, a course of that would take from 5 to 7 years to finish earlier than the primary article testing started (on only one plane kind).

Sooner or later, the modular and open-architecture design of the AgilePods will make it simple so as to add AI algorithms or LiDAR (Gentle Detection and Ranging) payloads to present plane. Within the meantime, with this fast and safe know-how, the historic B-52 fleet continues to adapt and modernize, as quickly as potential.

On Feb. 22, 2023, check pilots with the forty ninth Take a look at and Analysis Squadron accomplished the preliminary flight check of the AgilePod on the B-52. Since then, the identical unit has carried out further a number of floor and flight checks to the pod, making certain operational functionality and integration.

Maj. Brent Drabek, one of many B-52 operational check pilot on the 49 TES, remarked, “This functionality is a recreation changer permitting us to quickly develop, check, and area new applied sciences on a warfighter-relevant timeline.”

The U.S. Air Pressure has been engaged on a household of AgilePods of various sizes for a number of years now. As an example, in 2018, this system ran by the AFRL Sensors Directorate Blue Guardian workforce accomplished inflight testing of a mini-AgilePod on a DC-3, Textron Scorpion, and MQ-9 Reaper.

The AgilePod prototype makes use of an Open Missions System (OMS) modular software program structure and a modular bodily configuration of 28 – 60 inches in size that may home quite a lot of ISR sensor payloads. It could be conceivable that configurations embrace communication nodes to allow 4th Gen to fifth Gen information sharing for utilizing information as a weapon within the “fight cloud”.

The AgilePod is designed to be flightline configurable whereas deployed at ahead places to allow most assist of the warfighter. It’s a description that sounds remarkably just like the Scorpion, itself using a modular open system structure (MOSA) and that includes distinctive bodily modularity in its payload bay for ISR/Communication payloads.

The Mini-AgilePod, conceptualized right here, is designed with an open flooring plan and reconfigurable center sections in numerous sizes that may be modified relying on particular sensor applied sciences and missions. The ensuing household of AgilePod platforms will be capable of host optimized sensors and match an elevated variety of plane. (U.S. Air Pressure graphic/David Dixon)

David Cenciotti is a journalist primarily based in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and skim army aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and lots of others, masking aviation, protection, warfare, trade, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with totally different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Pressure, a personal pilot and a graduate in Pc Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.

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