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​Capt. Shane Dow, aircraft commander, left, and Capt. Kevin Wiemann, co-pilot, both with the 20th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale AFB, La., perform pre-flight checks onboard the 12th B-52 to receive the CONECT upgrade. Air Force photo by Kelly White.

The analog-era B-52 Stratofortress is going digital, providing space-age communications and situational awareness. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center’s 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base is installing the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) system, providing “the first major digital upgrade” to the venerable B-52Hs, said Alan Williams, deputy program element monitor at Air Force Global Strike Command. “We are moving from 1960s technology to the 21st century.” CONECT enables satellite-based communications in flight that will provide digital tasking messages and real-time intelligence and threat updates from multiple sources, which can be digitally shared with every crewmember. That will give the crew constantly updated situational awareness during missions that can last 16-17 hours, in contrast to the 1970s-era conditions of approaching a target with intelligence that could be 24-hours old. OC-ALC recently delivered the 12th bomber with the CONECT upgrade, giving AFGSC the number of aircraft needed for initial operational capability with the modernized B-52s, according to a July 14 release.