In early 2015, Boeing successfully installed the first prototype of a new B-52 bomber weapons bay launcher. Originally started in 2013, this prototype serves as the first of three that Boeing plans to use for data analysis.
At the end of 2013, the American aerospace and defense company Boeing was awarded with a contract by the United States Air Force to increase the effectiveness and capabilities of the B-52 bomber. Awarded at USD$24.6 million, the contract called for Boeing to develop a new modification to the current B-52’s weapon launcher. This looks to provide the B-52 with the capability to carry smart weapons in the bomb bay, which in turn allows aircrews to utilize the aircraft’s full weapons capacity.
Boeing looks to produce three prototype launches for intensive testing and assessment. The first prototype looks to be completed by March 2016. Once the B-52’s upgrades are completed, the aircraft will have the capabilities to carry 24 units of 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) or 20 units of 2,000-pound JDAMs.
Future capabilities strive towards the addition of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, Joint Air-to-Service Standoff Missiles – Extended Range variant, Miniature Air Launched Decoys, and Miniature Air Launched Decoys – Jammer variant. In addition, the upgrade to the B-52 aircraft’s bomb bay will use present Air Force rotary launchers that have been repurposed for general tasks along with wing pylons hardware and software that is currently already established. The upgrade also helps aircraft performance, as the upgrade will increase flight fuel efficiency since the aircraft will be able to transport weapons internally.
Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security division is one of the world’s largest businesses in the aerospace/defense industry. With over 58,000 employees worldwide, this division alone is a USD$33 billion business and stands as the world’s largest manufacturer of military aircraft.
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