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.