B-52 Bombers Being Outfitted With Texting Capability
When out of range for radio communications, bomber crews now can communicate with home bases by texting. The Air Force has plans to outfit its entire fleet of 76 bombers with the Evolutionary Data Link (EDL), a satellite-enabled texting capability. The service already has 19 of the Boeing-produced EDLs.
During a recent test flight over Montana, an engine on a B-52 failed, leaving the crew more than three hours from its home base in Louisiana with limited braking and steering functions. The plane was out of radio range, and the crew’s only way to alert its command of the need for an emergency landing was to text using an EDL laptop computer.
The home base received the message and was able to prepare for the landing, allowing the crew to avoid burning critical time trying to fly back into range of radio communications, Air Force officials said.
The service plans to buy enough laptop kits for the remainder of its B-52 fleet by the second quarter of 2012.