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Video for all: Aircrew innovation adapts aging plane

By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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With fewer resources and looming budget constraints, Airman innovation plays a crucial role in keeping today's Air Force on the leading edge of combat capability.

Capt. Stephen Gray, an electronic warfare officer from the 96th Bomb Squadron, received an award recently for spearheading an innovation which uses existing technology to increase the operational effectiveness of the B-52H Stratofortress.

"It was definitely a collaboration between aircrews from the 2nd Bomb Wing and 49th Test and Evaluations Squadron," said Gray, who was recognized by Col. Andrew Gebara, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, during a wing personnel meeting. "There were a lot of people involved in it."

Gray and his counterparts figured out a way to integrate the video feed from the aircraft's targeting pod into the cockpit computer network, making it visible to all crewmembers. Previously, the video feed was accessible only by a single laptop on board, and the crewmember viewing the feed had to verbally relay the information to the rest of the crew.

Before using this system, the radar navigator and the navigator were the only people who could see the video from the pod, said Gray. In a targeting situation, having all the crew see the same thing with virtually no time delay is a distinct advantage.

"Now, everybody on the crew can see it with their own eyes rather than only one or two guys," he added.

Additionally, the previous system used a stand-alone laptop which was limited by the battery life of the computer since the computer can't be charged during flight. The new system works through an existing computer network that is powered by the aircraft, eliminating the problem.

Communication between crewmembers is crucial, and this video capability gives the B-52 aircrew an extra tool to make sure the team is all on the same page.
In a message to Airmen, Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, emphasized the importance of innovation, encouraging the AF team to use their creativity to make advancements that benefit the force.

Gray and his fellow aviators have done just that.