Heavy Strategic bomber
Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF)
No more new aircraft will be procured.
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy strategic bomber capable of dropping or launching the widest
array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. The latest version of the aircraft, the B-52H, can carry as much as 70,000 pounds
of mixed ordnance and can be equipped with up to 20 air-launched cruise missiles.
For more than 50 years, the B-52 Stratofortress has been the backbone of the U.S. strategic bomber force.
Updated with modern technology, the B-52 will be capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons
and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of U.S. defenses.
The B-52H is powered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines, each delivering 17,000 pounds of thrust.
The B-52 is equipped with the AN/APQ-166 Strategic Radar system. The Strategic Radar Replacement (SR2) program was supposed to replace the AN/APQ-166 (fielded in the 1960s), however, the B-52 SR2 program was terminated in FY 2013 for higher priorities.
In 2013, Lockheed Martin's Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) achieved operational flight status on the B-52H. The pod provides pilots with high-resolution imagery for precision targeting and non-traditional ISR missions. Also, Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod is operational on the B-52.
Apart from performing strategic bombing missions, the B-52 is also effective when used for ocean surveillance, where the aircraft can assist the U.S. Navy in anti-ship and mine-laying operations. In just two hours, two B-52s can monitor 140,000 square miles of ocean surface.
A total of 744 B-52s were built (of which 102 were B-52H models) with the last aircraft delivered in October 1962. Only the B-52H variant is still in the Air Force inventory and a total of 58 B-52H aircraft are in active service with the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB in North Dakota and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. Another 18 aircraft are assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 917th Wing at Barksdale AFB.
Engineering analyses predict the B-52's life span to extend beyond the year 2040. The B-52H has a certified service life of 27,701 flight hours and the fleet averages 18,771 airframe hours as of December 31, 2015.
The Air Force is currently developing the B-21 Raider aka Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), which is the replacement platform for the B-52H and B-1B Lancer. The target is a production of 80-100 aircraft that are stealthy and capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The official per unit target price is $550 million but, in September 2016, it was reported that the unit price will likely be closer to $511 million. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the B-21 is planned for the mid-2020s. In late October 2015, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman the contract to build the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) - named B-21 Raider in September 2016. The company was selected over a joint bid by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The B-52 carries a wide range of weapons, including AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs) (both internally and externally). Among other types of ordnance, the aircraft can carry AGM-86C/D CALCM, Mk 62 500-pound sea mines; 500-pound Mk 82 or 2,000-pound Mk 84 General Purpose Bombs as well as CBU-87/89/97, CBU-103/104/105 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (WCMD), and Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs. The B-52 also carries GBU-31/38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM), and AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW). Future weapons that may be fielded on the B-52, include the AGM-158B JASSM-ER and the massive GBU-57 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). For more details, see specifications below.
The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber able to perform a variety of missions. The B-52 is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.
FY 2016 provides $144.9 million for modifications and upgrades to the B-52 weapon system. The primary modifications in FY 2016 are the B-52 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade and the B-52 Combat Network Communications Technology Capability Improvement. FY 16 also provides $74.5 million for RDT&E.
FY 2017 requests $109.0 million for modifications and upgrades to the B-52 weapon system.
The primary modification in FY 2017 is the B-52 Combat Network Communications Technology Capability Improvement.
FY 17 also requests $78.3 million for RDT&E.
For more information, click to see the FY 2017 USAF B-52 Modifications Budget.
Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Forecast International,
The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
Last Update: September 22, 2016.
By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (email@example.com)
Boeing: B-52 Stratofortress
Lockheed Martin: Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP)
Northrop Grumman: AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING Targeting Pod
YouTube: B-52 Stratofortress | YouTube Videos
Fact Sheet: Not Available
B-52 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:
|Modification of B-52 Aircraft (USAF)||Spares and Repair Parts (USAF)||B-52 Support Equipment (USAF)|
|RDT&E: B-52 Squadrons|
Primary Function: Heavy strategic bomber