BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. B-52 bombers now have a new weapons capability through the use of upgraded internal weapons bay launchers from Boeing.
The upgraded weapons bays, which can be transferred from one aircraft to another, have been installed on six bombers at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and enable the B-52s to carry GPS-guided or "smart" weapons in their internal weapons bay for the first time.
"The upgrades to the B-52 bomber's internal weapons bay have made it possible to have zero gap on the bomber's long-range bombing capabilities as we transfer from Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles to Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range," said Col. Tim Dickinson, B-52 Program Director with the U.S. Air Force.
The upgrade involves modifying the existing common strategic rotary launcher in the internal weapons bay into a conventional rotary launcher, which increases the number of smart weapons the B-52 can carry and deliver, Boeing said.
The launchers can carry eight Joint Direct Attack Munitions and future modifications will add the capability to carry Joint Air-to-Surface Stand Off Missiles and Miniature Air Launched Decoys.
"With this added capability, the B-52 bomber will remain relevant for decades to come." said Jeff Lupton, Boeing's B-52 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade program manager.
The new launchers are part of an Air Force low-rate initial production upgrade program.