US Air Force glimpses future of BLoS communication for B-52s
Outerlink Global Solutions revealed on 11 July that it recently executed the first airborne demonstration of its IRIS BLoS communications solution aboard a USAF B-52H Stratofortress flying from Barksdale AFB.
IRIS was paired with an Iridium Certus terminal for the demonstration ‘to provide constant communication and reporting’, Outerlink noted in a statement. A ground-based C2 team assessed how IRIS transferred voice, data and imagery from the B-52.
Executed through the AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contract, the flight demonstration was designed to test the feasibility of using Outerlink’s COTS system that would tie the B-52 into a global satellite architecture for unimpeded coverage.
Lt Col Andrew Embry, CO of the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, said: ‘The IRIS system is the solution that we need in order to equip the warfighter for today’s fight.’
The Iris system has already been adopted by rotary-wing platform operators. ‘Today, we learned that the IRIS System can be immediately employed using current joint tactics for operational and tactical control of long-range strike aircraft,’ said Lt Col Paul Goossen, chief of combat operations in the 608th Air Operations Center.
IRIS is set to replace the Global Iridium Bomber Set that has been in service since 2017, and Outerlink claimed that further support from Air Force Global Strike Command would allow for ‘permanent bomber integration and seamless coordination across geographic Air Operation Centers using the system’.
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