Global Strike Command commander General Timothy Ray said he is looking at the potential of equipping B-52 bombers with the in-development Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) during a media roundtable at the Air Force Association’s virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium.
The command also already plans to equip its B-52s with Lockheed Martin’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
Commenting on HACM, Ray said: “We’ve done some flight tests already on the ARRW. We’re looking to do some more later this year. I’m pleased with where that is. The progress continues. Certainly, we’re in the conversation for the HACM, as that gets developed.
Ray said the B-52 would be the first bomber to be fitted with the HACM, alongside ARRW, after which Global Strike Command would “look for the other opportunities.”
Ray deed: “I’m not in a place where I can give you the dates and times but as the Air Force looks at the threshold and objective platforms, how we continue to go down that path, I believe the HACM will give us an additional set of capabilities that will be both fitted for bombers and fighter aircraft.
“I think it’s a pretty special capability to keep our eye on and to keep that moving.”
Elsewhere Ray said, the number of bombers Global Strike Command needed was ‘north of 220’ adding that the ‘roadmap’ included ensuring the B-2 was still viable until the B-21 ‘ is coming off in appropriate numbers’.
Commenting on the bomber roadmap, Ray added: “I that roadmap is very well thought out now. We just finished talking to the Senate Armed Services Committee members to satisfy an NDAA requirement to walk them through that. That went really well.
“And as soon as I leave here, I’ll go sit down with all the House Armed Services Committee members, and but I do believe inside the Air Force, this is probably the more comprehensive and capable roadmaps that we have to go forward.”
Ray also said the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the B-52 re-engining contract should close ‘this summer’ adding that the project was ‘on time’. Ray added that ‘digital and physical prototyping’ had allowed for the project’s acceleration.