The first updated Northrop Grumman E-6B “Mercury” aircraft was just delivered to the US Navy by the renowned aerospace and military corporation Northrop Grumman. The “Doomsday” plane, as this specific plane is also known, is crucial in facilitating communication between the highest levels of administration and the country’s nuclear submarine fleet. This delivery’s completion is a component of a sizable deal, worth $111 million, designed to enhance and preserve these critical aircraft’s capabilities for the foreseeable future.
The Naval Air Systems Command, responsible for procuring aircraft for the Navy, announced that this year-long project was successfully finalized, and the aircraft has been officially accepted this month. Under the contract, six major modifications, collectively known as Block II, were implemented to significantly enhance the aircraft’s command, control, and communications functions. This ensures seamless connectivity between the National Command Authority and both strategic and nonstrategic forces of the United States.
By utilizing their knowledge and cutting-edge technology, Northrop Grumman was able to successfully update the E-6B aircraft, enhancing its ability to provide dependable airborne command, control, and communications capabilities and persistent mission readiness. Vice President of Platform Sustainment and Mission Readiness at Northrop Grumman, Scott Pfeiffer, reaffirmed the firm’s dedication to assisting the Navy’s mission and guaranteeing the aircraft’s effectiveness and survivability.
The upgrades were conducted at Northrop’s facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana. According to the Navy, several E-6B “Mercury” aircraft will undergo comprehensive overhauls by 2027, with Northrop Grumman entrusted with the responsibility of upgrading a total of 12 aircraft. The second aircraft designated for upgrades has already arrived at the Lake Charles facility, where work is already underway.
The E-6B “Mercury” aircraft boasts specialized communication equipment that enables operators to establish communication with the Navy’s submarine fleet, even when operating underwater. This unique capability allows for the transmission of directives from the President in critical scenarios that may require the submarines to launch their nuclear weapons. In addition to the ongoing upgrades, Northrop Grumman is currently competing with Collins Aerospace for the E-XX TACAMO program, which aims to eventually replace the E-6B fleet. The program involves a collaboration between Lockheed Martin, who will provide the aircraft, and Collins Aerospace, responsible for developing advanced communication equipment. The Navy intends to award the contract for this program by September 2024.
Northrop Grumman has mustered an elite crew of cohorts, including divisions from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, plus Crescent Systems and Long Wave Inc. to compete. On the other team, Collins Aerospace has allied with Sierra Nevada Corp. The result of this competition will decide which business gets to connect the chosen equipment and build up the rest of the plane.
It’s a major moment for the Navy as they take hold of the newly revamped E-6B “Mercury”, an essential step towards boosting their communicative abilities. And Northrop Grumman and its competitors won’t stop there; these tech whizzes are devoted to providing the United States Navy with cutting-edge aircraft, making sure they can stay connected in the years ahead.