The first US Air Force (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress bomber has arrived at Boeing facilities in San Antonio, Texas, to begin upgrading its radar system.
On site, the eight-engine aircraft will be equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) AN/APG-79 radar supplied by Raytheon.
The equipment is used on the F/A-18E/F fighters and has great accuracy, enabling the B-52 to map targets in high resolution.
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“The B-52 brings unique, critical capabilities to the U.S. Air Force as they move to a future two-bomber platform strategy,” said Jennifer Wong, director of Bomber Programs. “By modernizing the B-52 radar, we’re increasing the relevance of the aircraft for the warfighter for close air support or strategic attack.”
The B-52’s Radar Modernization Program (RMP) includes the installation of a new radome in the aircraft’s nose and considerable changes to the instrument panel, with the addition of two large-area, high-definition, touch-sensitive displays.
In addition, the B-52 will have two other displays with system sensors and controls for the crew.
In parallel with the avionics, the Air Force also executes the replacement program of the old TF-33 engines for the new F130 turbofan, supplied by Rolls & Royce.
More economical and powerful, the turbofan is derived from the BR725, used in large executive jets.
Under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), Rolls & Royce already performs ground tests on the B-52’s twin-engine package.
The Air Force plan is to have the first operational modernized B-52s in 2027.