Weapon Systems

Upgrades will bring B-52 Stratofortress into 'whole new type of fight'


The US Air Force's planned upgrades to the legacy B-52H bomber are so substantial that the overhauled aircraft will be re-designated the B-52J.

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A B-52 Stratofortress undergoes maintenance in Guam, in support of a Bomber Task Force mission, on April 11, 2023. [US Air Force]
A B-52 Stratofortress undergoes maintenance in Guam, in support of a Bomber Task Force mission, on April 11, 2023. [US Air Force]

The US Air Force's legacy B-52H Stratofortress -- a long-range, jet-powered strategic heavy bomber capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and altitudes of up to 15,240 meters -- is undergoing upgrades that will bring the aircraft into a "whole new type of fight," Air Force officials say.

The B-52 family of bombers recently marked its 70th birthday, and it has served in every US conflict since Vietnam.

The planned upgrades -- including a new engine, a new radar system, upgraded communications capabilities and a re-designed cockpit -- are so significant that all of the US Air Force's 76 B-52H bombers will be re-designated the B-52J once the overhaul is implemented.

"Just understanding what the capability of aircraft is, not just from an ability to employ weapons, but also the reach, the standoff, the loiter time, all of that plays into it," Col. Louis Ruscetta, senior materiel leader for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's B-52 Program Office, told Sandboxx News last May.

The newest model is expected to keep the aircraft in service into the 2050s and beyond.

The US Air Force expects the B-52Js to be available for operational use before the end of the decade.

New range, fuel efficiency

As a part of the overhaul, the bomber will see its TF33 engines replaced by F130 engines, which will substantially increase the bomber's fuel efficiency and range.

The engine replacement will also include an Electric Power Generation system, which is expected to increase the aircraft's fuel efficiency by 30%.

Once installed, the F130 engines are expected to extend the life of the aircraft for 30 years and remain on wing for the remainder of the aircraft life, according to their manufacturer.

The F130 engines will also reduce requirements for tanker aircraft refueling, it said in a 2021 statement.

"The F130 is a proven, efficient, modern engine that is the perfect fit for the B-52," it added.

"The longer legs that the new engines give us, the fuel efficiency gives us more combat range than we've ever had before," Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told Sandboxx.

"That brings us into a whole new type of fight, and a whole new type of capability."

New radar, cockpit

Upgrades are also being done on the B-52 fleet with the APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which will provide greater situational awareness over the aircraft's legacy radar.

Outfitting the B-52 with an AESA radar replaces its current 1960's radar technology, and will improve its navigation and targeting capabilities in higher threat areas.

Originally designed for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the APG-79 AESA radar system expands air-to-air and air-to-surface target tracking capabilities for the B-52.

It is capable of tracking multiple targets at once with instantaneous track updates, higher-resolution imaging and a range of 150km, according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

The upgraded aircraft will also feature a cleaner, more streamlined cockpit redesign, with four large color multifunction displays to show a variety of flight status information as well as imagery from the new radar.

The aircraft overhaul will include the addition of Link 16, a communications system for transmitting and exchanging real time tactical data among the US military, NATO and other allies.

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May Allah not help them!




A nice game


O, leaders, pay attention to peace and establish peace on earth. I've had enough of fighting, blood and destruction. I pray to Allah to guide you to the good of humanity and good manners.


B52 is a dangerous strategic bomber!


Hope these updates will be available to non-Nato allies.