Senior Leadership Airborne Communications Program: Keeping US Officials Plugged In
The USAF is looking to help Vice President Biden communicate better. Now, that’s quite a challenge.
It’s not just the vice president, but many top level US officials, including Pentagon chief Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, the First Lady, as well as members of the Cabinet and Congress. The Senior Leadership C3 System – Airborne Communications program is upgrading the communications systems onboard 20 VIP specialty aircraft that fly top US officials around the world.
Currently, each type of VIP aircraft comes with its own unique communications suite. Through the VIP communications upgrade program, the USAF is procuring a standard communications architecture for all of the aircraft in the fleet.
To put the program into action, Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts recently awarded a $208.9 million contract to Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA, to provide a standardized voice, data, and video systems for the VIP fleet.
The VIP fleet consists of the following aircraft types:
- C-20: the B version is a modified Gulfstream III twin-engine turbofan aircraft; the H version is a modified Gulfstream IV;
- C-37A: modified version of the high-altitude, intercontinental Gulfstream V aircraft;
- C-32: “Air Force Two” is a modified Boeing 757-200 jet aircraft
- C-40B/C: modified version of the Boeing 737-700 business jet.
The first plane that will get the Rockwell Collins communication system is the C-37, expected in 2011.
Karl Gregor, USAF deputy program manager for the Senior Leadership C3 System – Airborne Communications Program, said that the upgrade process could take until 2015 or 2016 because there are only a few of each type of aircraft in service. No more than 1 per year of each type can be taken out of service.
For the upgrade, Rockwell Collins will provide communication system operator work stations; passenger stations voice over internet protocol phones; video teleconferencing systems; classified and unclassified local area networks; and training, maintenance, and logistics support.
At this time, $8.6 million has been obligated. Hanscom Air Force Base, MA manages the contract (FA8726-10-D-0003).