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    Re: astrocompass still in use
    From: Robert Eno
    Date: 2002 Sep 29, 10:28 -0400

    Thank you for that information. This sounds very interesting.
    This unit must be of considerable weight if -- at the size of a medium-sized
    picnic cooler -- it must be removed with a crane.
    On another, and unrelated note, perhaps you can answer a long-standing
    question of mine: given that the B-52 is now running at about 40 plus years
    of age, what is it about this venerable aircraft that the US Airforce keeps
    it going? It seems to me that it is approaching the "cold war relic" stage.
    Yet we continually hear of its applications across the globe.
    Do they still use periscopic sextants in the B-52?
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Paul Hirose 
    Sent: Saturday, September 28, 2002 10:08 PM
    Subject: Re: astrocompass still in use
    > Robert Eno wrote:
    > >
    > > Thankyou very much for the most interesting story.
    > >
    > > Whatever happened to the concept of astro-trackers?  It seems to me,
    > > today's microchip technology, this device could be much improved and
    > > considerably in size.
    > It's very much alive on the B-2, where it's integrated with an
    > inertial nav system and called the AINS (astro inertial navigation
    > system). It resembles the SR-71 system described by Dan Allen; I've
    > been told Northrop built both. The main unit is about the size of a
    > medium picnic cooler. It is removed with a crane, but fortunately only
    > needs to be pulled if it fails. That is rare. Accuracy is classified,
    > but I will say it beats the SR-71 accuracy figure Dan gave.
    > The B-2 has no port for a periscopic sextant, though for a time I
    > thought it did. The planes I initially saw were very much incomplete
    > (this was before one ever flew), and I noticed a little round opening
    > in the cockpit ceiling. "Oh, wow, a sextant port!" Hardly. It was for
    > a "lead in light" to give the boom operator on an air refueling tanker
    > a visual reference at night. Anyhow, the B-2 has no table to lay out
    > your chart and books.
    > On the B-52 the navigator and radar navigator (the latter being the
    > senior navigator) have good sized tables which slide out from the base
    > of the console. If you yank the ejection ring between your legs,
    > pyrotechnics automatically fire to stow the table just before the seat
    > goes.
    > CNN's "Warbirds" program has shots of the B-52 nav team at work. I
    > used to work on the equipment they're shown operating. Hollywood would
    > probably have them looking at charts on 19 inch color monitors. The
    > real nav "office" is more prosaic: little green monitors, charts and
    > other paperwork cluttering the tables!
    > The program will air again early tomorrow morning. Probably will be
    > rerun on a later date as well; I first saw it more than a month ago.
    > http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/presents/index.war.birds.html

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