Home Americas US Navy contracts Northrop for E-6B Mercury upgrades

US Navy contracts Northrop for E-6B Mercury upgrades

E-6B Mercury doomsday plane
A U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury aircraft, assigned to Strategic Communications Wing 1 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, taxis on the flightline after landing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, July 15, 2019. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy recently awarded Northrop Grumman an integrated modification and maintenance contract for the US Navy’s E-6B Mercury platform to enable it to more efficiently fulfill its nuclear forces command and control role.

Over the next five years, Northrop Grumman will perform modifications to the Navy’s E-6B aircraft improving command, control and communications functions that connect the national command authority with the United States’ Nuclear Triad.

The company will establish a consolidated production line for core modifications required under the $111 million contract. Northrop Grumman may also take on additional, smaller modifications and select depot maintenance tasks as required.

Work on the derivative of the commercial Boeing 707 aircraft will be performed at Northrop Grumman’s Aircraft Maintenance and Fabrication Center in Lake Charles.

“We are laser focused on providing the most relevant capabilities while improving mission readiness,” said Mary Petryszyn, corporate vice president and president of Defense Systems at Northrop Grumman. “As leaders in aircraft sustainment and modernization, the US Navy’s E-6B Mercury fleet is another example of our strong partnership with the Navy in achieving those goals.”

As part of the critical Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) strategic communications mission, the E-6B operates across a wide frequency spectrum to transmit and receive secure and non-secure voice and data information. The aircraft provides survivable, endurable, reliable airborne command, control, and communications in support of the President, Secretary of Defense, and United States Strategic Command.

The latest contract follows the modernization of the E-6B to the Block I configuration by Collins Aerospace. That effort was completed in 2020 and saw the airframes receive a new command and control battlestaff, communications central control, multi-enclave voice/data/video distribution system, and an Internet Protocol Bandwidth Expansion (IPBE) digital backbone.