B-2 Bomber: Review of the Air Force's Decision to Change Extremely High Frequency Satellite Communications Antennas

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The B-2 bomber is a low-observable, long-range strike aircraft capable of entering heavily defended areas to deliver both conventional and nuclear weapons. The B-2 currently uses an ultra high frequency (UHF) satellite communications system, but because of aging military satellites, the Air Force determined a new communications system was needed. As a result, the Air Force began an incremental acquisition approach for replacing the B-2's existing UHF satellite communications system with an extremely high frequency (EHF) communications capability. The first increment, which is expected to begin production in ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. December 16, 2010.

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The B-2 bomber is a low-observable, long-range strike aircraft capable of entering heavily defended areas to deliver both conventional and nuclear weapons. The B-2 currently uses an ultra high frequency (UHF) satellite communications system, but because of aging military satellites, the Air Force determined a new communications system was needed. As a result, the Air Force began an incremental acquisition approach for replacing the B-2's existing UHF satellite communications system with an extremely high frequency (EHF) communications capability. The first increment, which is expected to begin production in late fiscal year 2011, is designed to upgrade computer system speed and storage capacity. The second increment is expected to provide secure, survivable strategic communications connectivity, thus allowing B-2 pilots to receive emergency action messages during strategic operations--an EHF capability that U.S. Strategic Command has stated it needs by fiscal year 2016. The third increment is intended to enable the EHF system to connect with the Global Information Grid. The focus of our review was the second increment, which is scheduled to enter the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase in early fiscal year 20131 and has an estimated total acquisition cost of $1.9 billion. In March 2008, the Air Force started a technology development and concept refinement phase for the second increment of the EHF system. In summer 2008, Air Force officials raised concerns during systems engineering activities about integration plans for a new EHF antenna subsystem, particularly as they related to the planned antenna location. As a result of these concerns, the Air Force decided to change the location of the antenna for the EHF system, and also changed the type of antenna it planned to use from a mechanically steered array to an active electronically scanned array (AESA). Because of concern over the change in antenna, the Senate Armed Services Committee directed us to review the decision process used by the Air Force to make a change in the antenna approach.4 This Senate direction was in addition to a request from the House of Representative's Armed Services Committee, Air and Land Forces Subcommittee for us to (1) review the decision-making process used to support the antenna changes, and (2) determine the extent to which the program is employing a knowledge-based acquisition approach to identify and resolve technical gaps prior to the start of EMD. On August 17, 2010, we briefed our findings to congressional staff."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • December 16, 2010

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United States. Government Accountability Office. B-2 Bomber: Review of the Air Force's Decision to Change Extremely High Frequency Satellite Communications Antennas, text, December 16, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301477/: accessed September 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.