Hill AFB, Utah is to undertake radar cross section testing of the flight controls and edges of the Northrop Grumman [NOC] B-2 stealth bomber as early as late 2024 or 2025.

“Hill AFB is building a new Composite Aircraft Antenna Calibration (CAAC) facility that will perform multiple radar functions,” according to a Feb. 17 sources sought business notice by Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill. “One of these functions is to measure the radar cross section (RCS) of B-2 flight controls and edges. The building will have general office spaces, radar rooms, antenna rooms, anechoic chamber, radar control rooms, and a preparation area.”

The target date for CAAC completion is September 2024. “The contractor shall provide a RCS radar system to perform testing of B-2 flight controls,” per the sources sought notice. “The RCS equipment must be readily movable in and out of the test chamber to allow both types of radar work to be performed within the test chamber. The moveable RCS equipment must still be capable of maintaining acceptable accuracy and safety and dependability requirements.”

Such equipment is to include a radar system for RCS measurement by Virginia-based QuarterBranch Technologies, Inc.; an antenna array; low observable pylon with controllable rotator; interface adapter fixtures for mounting objects on the pylon; and a transporter to move the pylon into and out of the test chamber.

The Air Force plans to issue a request for proposals this September and to award a contract by the end of the year.

Last August, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) held a virtual Bomber Industry Day to discuss the B-2 and programs for the Boeing [BA] B-52 and B-1 bombers (Defense Daily, Sept. 29, 2021).

A Bomber Industry Day briefing by Air Force Col. Cory Brown, the B-2 program manager, said that the program is executing “the most aggressive sustainment and modernization strategy in B-2’s history” and that the program is “delivering strongest mission capable rates for Low Density, High Demand (LD/HD) fleet due to full-court press across Low-Observable Signature and Supportability Modifications (LOSSM), Low-Observable maintenance, and supply chain.”

The B-2 program at Wright-Patterson AFB (WPAFB), Ohio has been seeking secure, in-flight mission planning and communications upgrades for the B-2s, which are to remain in service until at least 2030 when the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber begins fielding.

A November 2020 report on Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps’ aircraft mission capable rates by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) pointed to sustainment challenges for the B-2. In 2019, the B-2’s mission capable (MC) rate was 60.47 percent. According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown’s presentation for the Bomber Industry Day last August, the B-2’s MC rate for fiscal 2021 was “on track.”

AFLCMC has not responded when asked for the B-2’s current MC and full mission capable (FMC) rates.