BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Lt. Col. Warren Carroll and Maj. Brandon Wolf, two Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing, brought a proposed B-52 Stratofortress innovation one step closer to fruition here last week.
Engineers from the B-52 Stratofortress Systems Program Office followed up on the two Airmen’s proposal to place combination USB port, LED maplight systems aboard the 60-plus-year-old bombers.
The idea gained traction during a StrikeTank competition last June when it won a “Golden Ticket” and $15,000 to develop a prototype.
LR Werx, the AF Werx spark cell for the 307th BW, sponsored the project with the idea of increasing mission effectiveness and lethality.
“We carry electronic tablets on our missions and constantly reference them for checklists, technical orders, landing data, and other performance information needed to make in-flight calculations,” said Carroll. “But the batteries on the tablets only last a few hours.”
The long-range capability of the B-52 extends some missions beyond 30 hours. So, the short battery life of the tablets is a liability since they carry information critical to mission success.
To compensate, aircrews carry several large lithium battery packs to ensure power to the tablets throughout long missions. However, those batteries are a potential fire hazard.
Carrol and Wolf’s idea would mitigate the problem by eliminating the extra batteries brought on board.
“By having USB ports, we significantly reduce the chance of a fire potentially destroying a jet,” said Carroll.
Kenneth Pistone, an engineer with the B-52 SPO at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was part of a team that came to assess the best way to install the ports and maplight.
Pistone gathered data to determine the best locations to place USB ports so all aircrew would have access.
“We could have preliminary tests complete in six to nine months providing there are no funding concerns,” said Pistone.
Carrol said this latest innovation is unique among the LR Werx proposals.
“You see a lot of innovation efforts at the support function level, and those are great,” said Carroll. “But this is the first one where our spark cell pushed a solution that can be used directly in combat.”