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Presidential fleet to receive communication upgrade

A C-40C aircraft with the 932nd Airlift Wing departs Sept 8, 2017 from  Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, heading to Tyndall Air Force Base to pick up fellow service members ahead of approaching Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Stan Paregien)

A C-40C aircraft with the 932nd Airlift Wing departs Sept 8, 2017 from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, heading to Tyndall Air Force Base to pick up fellow service members ahead of approaching Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Stan Paregien)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A team from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Presidential & Executive Airlift Directorate has begun fleet-wide satellite communication (SATCOM) upgrades on aircraft supporting the President and other Executive Department leaders.

The U.S. Air Force and L3 Harris implemented the Secretary of the Air Force-sponsored effort from concept to first aircraft installation in only eight months. 

“This defines acquisition at its best,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Britton, Program Executive Officer for the Directorate.   “The team is delivering a cutting edge capability to support our national leadership over a year ahead of schedule.  They have set the standard.”

A C-40B was the first aircraft to receive the upgrade, completing on June 12.  Over the summer, the rest of the executive airlift fleet will receive the upgrade. 

The initiative completely upgrades each aircraft’s internal SATCOM system with a future-proofed system, referred to as the M3 Modem.  Performance and service to our nation’s leaders will be unparalleled, providing a ten-fold increase in data speeds, more assured connectivity, and doubled geographical coverage by extending it across the Atlantic Ocean and Europe. 

The M3 modem replaces three separate components with one, thereby reducing size, weight and power.  As new satellites are launched, the geographic SATCOM coverage will continue to grow, enhancing on-board communications capability for our nation’s senior leaders.

Each upgrade takes only five days, and is being accomplished concurrently with planned maintenance to ensure aircraft availability is not impacted.  Fielding will be complete in August, approximately 16 months ahead of the original planned schedule.