E-6B Block I upgrade completed

Collins Aerospace Systems, a subsidiar of Raytheon Technologies Corp., completed the modernizing the sixteen E-6B Mercury's, part of the US Navy’s Airborne Command Post and Take Charge and Move Out (ABNCP/TACAMO) Weapon System missions during early December 2020.

The upgraded aircraft features a new command and control battlestaff, communications central control, multi-enclave voice/data/video distribution system, and an Internet Protocol Bandwidth Expansion (IPBE) digital backbone. Collins Aerospace acted as the Mission System Integrator (MSI), designing, developing, producing, installing, and qualifying the recapitalization of the mission system.

The E-6Bs are now configured as "Block I" and that resulted in the fact that crews have now a modern, multi-enclave mission system that provides a full picture of their operating environment. As part of the ABNCP mission, the E-6B is an airborne command post and communications relay for US nuclear forces. For the TACAMO mission, the E-6B provides the survivable communications link to our submarine forces using Collins Aerospace’s Very Low Frequency (VLF) terminal.

The upgrade work was completed at Will Rogers Airport (OK) where the company’s co-located modification facility completed the eight-year full-rate Production (FRP) effort. The US Navy is using sixteen E-6Bs with the Commander Strategic Communications Wing (CSCW) 1, based at Tinker AFB (OK). The wing is operating three squadrons of E-6Bs, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 3 Ironman, VQ-4 Shadows and VQ-7 Roughnecks. VQ-3 keeps detachments at Travis AFB (CA) and Offut AFB (NB) while VQ-4 keeps a detachment at NAS Patuxent River (MD). The latter is assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 Force. CSCW-1 will soon add a surplus Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 to its fleet (see Scramble News 29 October 2020). The former Royal Air Force AWACS will be used as an E-6B in-flight training aircraft.

Please have a look at the Scramble US Navy database (and fill in E-6B in the type field) to get knowledge of the serial, construction number, squadron details and last-noteds of all sixteen E-6Bs. If you have an update on this database, please let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or just give a simple update via the "send updates".

Photo by Photo by Greg L Davis 

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