B-52H—True Sons of “Big Belly”

The Air Force is currently upgrading the B-52’s internal weapons bay interface capability to add eight smart weapons, thus increasing the aircraft’s precision-guided munitions payload by roughly two-thirds, according to Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. “The B-52 delivers the widest variety of stand-off, direct-attack nuclear and conventional weapons in the Air Force and we have been investing in multiple improvements,” Kowalski told an audience Wednesday during a National Defense University Foundation-sponsored address in Washington, D.C. This effort represents the “most significant B-52 modernization since the [1980s] and will add 21st century capability to the aircraft,” stated Kowalski unequivocally. Major improvements include new flight control software to enhance targeting pod capabilities and incorporate miniature air launched decoys onto the B-52, as well as a modern digital communications system. With progress thus far, Kowalski said he expects the B-52’s combat network communications technology upgrade to enter low-rate production by 2013.