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B-52H Superfortress Set for Transformation into Advanced B-52J Variant with Upgraded Engines and Enhancements

The B-52H aircraft will be reclassified as the B-52J upon installation of new Rolls-Royce F130 engines and various significant enhancements, as stated in the Air Force fiscal 2024 budget documents. The journey towards the B-52J The alteration in designation resolves a persistent debate regarding the nomenclature for the upgraded B-52, as the aircraft will undergo multiple enhancements over its 61-year lifespan.

In addition to the fresh engines, the B-52 will also receive novel radar systems, upgraded communication and navigation systems, and new weaponry. These enhancements are intended to ensure the aircraft remains relevant and capable well into the 2050s. Global Strike Command had contemplated utilizing provisional designations for the “J” model, which would subsequently transition into the B-52K. Modifications in the arsenal of weaponry.

Among the upgraded armaments anticipated for the B-52 was the AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic missile. However, the Air Force intends to terminate the program after additional testing and shift its focus towards the hypersonic attack cruise missile (HACM). The name of the B-52 reengineering project has also changed from the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) to CERP RVP for Rapid Virtual Prototyping.

Budget and enhancements The Air Force requests an allocation of nearly $3 billion for B-52 acquisitions in the upcoming years. The Radar Modernization Program accounts for $845.9 million of this total amount. The new radar system will be a variation of the Raytheon AN/APG-79, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar employed in the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft.

Engine upgrade and fuel efficiency The retrofit program has a budget of $2.56 billion, with a maximum of $650.5 million allocated for 2025. Its objective is to replace the Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines with Rolls-Royce F130 engines. The engine swap is expected to result in a 30% reduction in fuel consumption and eliminate the need for engine overhauls throughout the B-52’s operational lifespan. Operational availability The Air Force anticipates that the B-52Js with new engines and radar systems will be ready for operational use before the end of the decade.

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