Northrop Plans to Bid on US Navy E-6B Mercury Replacement Aircraft

Northrop Grumman plans to submit a bid for the US Navy’s E-6B Mercury command, control, and communications aircraft replacement program.

The US defense giant wants to offer its “weapons system integration and battle management leadership” for the E-6 recapitalization aircraft (E-XX) Take Charge And Move Out (TACAMO) program.

The aircraft will be based on the C-130J platform.

Northrop Bid

“Our extensive experience integrating aircraft and mission systems, combined with our expertise in creating operationally-ready solutions in support of the nuclear enterprise, makes Northrop Grumman the optimal partner to deliver the Navy’s E-XX TACAMO weapon system,” Northrop vice president Janice Zilch said.

“As we’ve demonstrated with the Navy’s E-2  programs, we have been a longtime partner in helping the Navy meet its operational requirements. We will bring this expertise in helping the Navy deliver the E-XX TACAMO on time and optimized for this strategically important mission.”

The E-6B

Based on the Boeing 707, the E-6B features a low-frequency communication system with dual antennae. 

The aircraft provides airborne “command, control and communications between the National Command Authority and US strategic and non-strategic forces.”

The navy began inducting the E-6B in 1997 to replace the E-6A, receiving the first in 1997 and the last in 2006. 

Navy Replacement Plan  

The service laid out an accelerated plan to replace the E-6B In its 2022 Budget proposal, including procuring three C-130J-30 aircraft as test assets. 

The test aircraft’s developmental tests and funding are expected in 2025.

Meanwhile, the service awarded Northrop a $111-million contract in February 2022 to upgrade the E-6B’s command, control, and communications

The aircraft is expected to remain in service through 2038.

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