The US Air Force’s B-52 radar modernisation program takes a step forward as a B-52 from the 307th Bomb Wing arrives at a Boeing facility in San Antonio to receive the Active Electronically Scanned Array system (AESA).

The US Air Force commenced its program by welcoming a B-52 bomber from the 307th Bomb Wing to a Boeing Co. facility in San Antonio on May 25. This deployment aims to equip the aircraft with the AESA.

Colonel Louis Ruscetta, Senior Materiel Leader for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s B-52 Program Office, expressed the significance of this moment, stating, “The arrival of this aircraft is a big deal and signals the beginning of a key part of our effort to modernise the B-52 fleet.”

By replacing the 1960s-era radar technology, the AESA system will substantially enhance the B-52’s navigation and targeting capabilities, ensuring its readiness to operate in higher-threat areas.

Apart from improved situational awareness, navigation, and targeting, the AESA system is designed to be adaptable. It allows future software modifications to incorporate new capabilities, enabling the B-52 to address evolving threats effectively.

Both Boeing and Raytheon play crucial roles in the installation process. As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the B-52, Boeing’s experience and understanding of the platform are invaluable in ensuring the swift implementation of the AESA system.

Collaborating with Raytheon on the radar side further strengthens the partnership. This combined effort enables the use of a government off-the-shelf solution, minimising development time and reducing both the development and testing timelines.

The installation of AESA represents one of the most substantial upgrades in the history of the B-52 fleet. With an estimated cost of approximately $2.8bn, this is a significant investment in modernising this venerable bomber. The B-52 fleet will achieve operational capability with the new radar system by 2027.