The B-52, one of the backbones of the U.S. Air Force for decades, has long been equipped to launch nuclear-armed weapons from its bay. The B-52’s recent internal weapons bay upgrade program transforms the weapons launcher in the bay so it can deploy GPS-guided “smart” bombs for the first time, and Boeing recently delivered prototypes of the new launcher ahead-of-schedule, allowing the U.S. Air Force to begin field testing. Boeing’s upgrade transforms the bay to a conventional launcher capable of carrying upwards of 50 percent more precision guided weapons, a capability that increases the B-52’s flexibility and versatility in supporting the warfighter in real time.
Military crews began field testing the new launcher prototypes at Edwards Air Force Base in December, while flight tests are scheduled for February. Once this phase of the weapons bay upgrade is complete, two additional phases will further increase the weapons capacity of the B-52.
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