NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– The first E-6B Mercury arrived at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Aircraft Maintenance and Fabrication Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana for Block II modification earlier this month.
The work is part of an Integrated Modification and Maintenance Contract (IMMC) awarded in February, which focuses on fielding improved airborne strategic communications sooner.
“This is an important event because it’s the first time a single company will be responsible for executing the entire installation,” said Bob Stailey, Airborne Strategic Command, Control, and Communications Program Office (PMA-271) E-6B deputy program manager. “NGC Lake Charles built an integrated modification schedule that implements efficiencies and lessons learned from previous efforts.”
The Block II upgrade consists of six modifications to improve the aircraft’s command, control, and communications functions connecting the National Command Authority with U.S. strategic and non-strategic forces.
The previous modification contract was executed by two separate commercial activities and one organic activity with a 19-month average turnaround time. With this new IMMC, the team anticipates ultimately achieving a six-month modification turnaround timeline.
“This contract streamlines how we are fielding our capability upgrades,” Stailey said. “We are fully engaged with the fleet and our partners as we reduce the time required for aircraft modifications.”
Driving toward the timeline reduction goal has been a team effort with a partnership between the program, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, Defense Contract Management Agency, Strategic Communications Wing One (SCW-1), Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 4, Navy liaison officers and program representative’s onsite in Lake Charles.
“I’m very proud of the entire team and all the work they’ve done to get to this point,” said Capt. Adam Scott, PMA-271 program manager. “It’s taken a big effort and they are constantly looking for ways to identify and overcome any challenges.”
Faster turnaround times with the upgrades will lead to more aircraft being available with increased capabilities for the warfighter.
“Our number one priority is ensuring SCW-1 accomplishes its mission providing assured airborne strategic communications and that the president is always connected to his nuclear forces,” Scott said.
PMA-271’s mission is to deliver and support survivable, reliable, and endurable airborne command, control, and communications for the President, Secretary of Defense, and U.S. Strategic Command.