Northrop Grumman Inducts US Navy’s First E-6B Mercury Aircraft

American aerospace firm Northrop Grumman has officially inducted the US Navy’s first E-6B Mercury aircraft to undergo Block II modifications.

The modification is part of a five-year, $111 million contract awarded in February to upgrade the aircraft’s command, control, and communications (C3).

The company will perform six upgrades to improve the E-6B’s C3 functions, smoothly connecting the National Command Authority with US forces.

“This is an important event because it’s the first time a single company will be responsible for executing the entire installation,” Airborne Strategic official Bob Stailey said in a press release.

He further noted that Northrop Grumman has established an integrated modification schedule, implementing efficiencies and lessons from previous efforts.

The aircraft has already arrived at the Northrop maintenance and fabrication facility in Louisiana.

Modification turnaround time is expected to be six months, 13 months shorter than the average time for modification contracts.

The E-6B Mercury

Naval Air Systems Command describes the E-6B Mercury as a communications relay and strategic airborne command post that provides “survivable, reliable, and endurable” airborne command, control, and communications.

Developed based on Boeing’s 707 long-range airliner, the Mercury is equipped with a low-frequency communication system with dual antennas.

The aircraft has a maximum speed of 522 knots (600 miles/960 kilometers per hour) and can fly up to 6,600 nautical miles (12,223 kilometers).


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