Electronic Weapons: Airborne Broadband


August 9, 2008:  The U.S. Navy is spending $29 million to equip its 16 E-6B airborne command, control and communications aircraft with, in effect, high-speed Internet communications. Like many U.S. Air Force electronic warfare aircraft, the E-6B is based on the same airframe (the Boeing 707) used in the hundreds of KC-135 air force tankers. The navy is actually using off-the-shelf Internet hardware to carry out this upgrade.

The E-6Bs are airborne command posts, originally designed to help control navy nuclear missile submarines in wartime. But now they are mainly flying command posts, and faster communications are a must in a time when real-time video and huge electronic data transfers are essential to running combat operations.


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