…And a New Radar Would Be Nice

The 51-year-old B-52H needs a new radar, and Global Strike Command chief Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday he would be quite satisfied having the AN/APG-81, which equips the F-35 fighter, installed on the bomber. Speaking with reporters after Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Arlington, Va., Wilson said the F-35 radar would be an “80 percent solution” to what the B-52 needs, but offers big operating cost benefits: by buying the AN/APG-81, the Air Force could increase the production run and further reduce unit costs on the radar. Also, as with potential re-engining of the B-52, Wilson said the radar would sharply reduce maintenance costs on the bomber, thus defraying the cost of the new capability. The longer the B-52 serves, the more savings would accrue, he said. The precedent for both upgrades is the KC-135 re-engining and digital upgrade, which has saved money and vastly extended the KC-135’s service life, he said.