The upgrade – the 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade – involves rewiring the existing B-52 bomb launcher into a Common Rotary Launcher, which carries the munitions and is housed in the B-52's bomb bay.
The rewiring, which allows the B-52 to communicate with the newest weapons in the Air Force's arsenal, will enable the bomber to carry eight advanced, precisions-guided Joint Direct Attack munition (JDAMs) in its internal weapons bay. A dozen JDAM bombs are carried on the bomber's external weapons pylons.
"Military Standard 1760 is the technical name," said Alan Williams, the B-52 Deputy Program element monitor at Air Force Global Strike Command said. "It determines how the wiring will be laid out and what signals will go through them.
"It's similar to your home's Internet connection; you need a specific type of wiring to access the signal and a software agreement as to what those signals will be.
"The system uses a digital interface," Williams said. "Then there's a software piece called a storage management overlay, or SMO. We currently have the SMO that can talk to the weapons on the wing. With the new wiring in place, we're now going to be able to change the software to also allow for communication with those weapons in the bomb bay."
Boeing is developing the upgrade, which will be installed and tested on six bombers. The target date is 2016. A new contract for 38 additional upgrade units would follow.