The U.S. Air Force’s B-52 bombers can now take flight with a greater variety and quantity of precision munitions due to upgraded internal weapons bay launchers.
The B-52 is America’s longest-serving heavy bomber and, with continued upgrades and maintenance support, remains a vital part of the nation’s strategic military deterrent and global reach. The bomber has been equipped to carry GPS-guided or “smart” weapons only on its external pylons, with the internal bomb bay reserved for cruise missiles, “dumb bombs,” and nuclear weapons.
Boeing delivered six new launchers, which can be moved from one aircraft to another, that allow smart weapons to be carried inside the massive internal weapons bay. This significantly increases the capacity of the B-52 to carry smart weapons. Additionally, by moving the weapons into the bay, there’s reduced air drag which improves fuel efficiency and intercontinental range.
The launchers can carry up to eight Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). Future increments of the upgrade program will add the capability to carry longer-range stand-off weapons and decoys.