B-52s Get AESA Radar Upgrades

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B-52s Get AESA Radar Upgrades
B-52 Stratofortress Strategic Bomber will soon be modernised with a new AESA radar. US Air Force says the programme will cost around $2.8 billion.

The US Air Force’s one of oldest aircraft with U-2s, the B-52 Stratofortress Strategic Bomber, will get B-52 Radar Modernisation Programme. The B-52 has been in service with the USAF since 1955. There are 72 aircraft in stock through 2022. A total of 58 units are actively operated by the 2nd Bomb Wing and 5th Bomb Wing. Then 18 units by the Reserves of the 307th Bomb Wing and about 12 units in long-term storage at Davis-Monthan AFB Boneyard. The old 1960s radar used on the Strategic Bomber will be upgraded with new technology. The new radar enables standoff or long-range capabilities and improves aircraft optimisation in carrying out missions. The aircraft named the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker) will be the first B-52 aircraft to have its radar modified. A B-52 aircraft from the 307th Bomb Wing on May 25 arrived at the Boeing Co. facility in San Antonio. In addition to AESA, the aircraft will also be equipped with situational awareness and navigation enhancement devices. The AESA radar is designed to be adaptable to address future threats and can be augmented through software modifications. Boeing and Raytheon are involved in the process of installing this new radar. The installation of the AESA was one of the most extensive upgrades for the B-52 in its history. The USAF says the modernisation programme will cost around $2.8 billion, with initial operational capability expected by 2027. Sustainability is essential to this effort, as old radars can no longer be developed. In addition, the advances in combat capabilities that AESA will bring are critical in keeping these aircraft effective against nearly equal adversaries. 

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The B-52 made its maiden flight in April 1952. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American jet-powered, long-range, subsonic strategic bomber. The USAF has operated this aircraft since the 1950s. The aircraft was built to carry nuclear weapons during Cold War for deterrence missions. The B-52 can carry a weapons payload of up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg). The aircraft has a combat range of 8,800 miles (14,200 km) without air refuelling. The entire bomber fleet flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was disbanded in 1992. Then the aircraft was transferred to the Air Combat Command (ACC). All B-52 Stratofortresses were transferred in 2010 from ACC to Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). The plan is for the B-52 to continue to be used by the USAF into the 2050s. US Air Force is also working on B-21 Raider as part of the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program.

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