Boeing received a $24.6 million contract from the Air Force to increase the B-52’s smart weapons capacity by 50 percent, announced company officials. Under the terms of the contract, Boeing will produce three prototype launchers, with initial capability slated for March 2016. Upon completion of the first phase, the B-52 will be able to internally carry 24, 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions or 20, 2,000 pound JDAMs, states the release. Eventually, Boeing will upgrade the aircraft allowing it to carry the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and its extended range variant, as well as Miniature Air Launched Decoy and its jammer variant. “This weapons capacity expansion joins the CONECT program, a comprehensive communication upgrade currently being installed on the aircraft, to give the warfighter even more flexibility,” said Scot Oathout, B-52 program director.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.