The US Air Force (USAF) has increased the capabilities of the long-range, heavy bomber B-52 Stratofortress with the conventional rotary launchers (CRLs).

CRLs are upgraded munitions equipment that enables the B-52 Stratofortresses to carry a selection of different conventional smart weapons or global positioning system (GPS) guided weapons.

The first conventional rotary launchers (CRLs) were flown out from the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, US, on a C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft for use in the combat area of responsibility.

Air Forces Strategic (AFSTRAT) Armament Systems manager master sergeant Adam Levandowski said: “When you take a B-52 and load it with mixed smart weapons, you now open up many more options with one aircraft instead of having to call in other aircraft for other types of munitions.

“Now, combatant commanders are presented with a much more flexible weapons selection without the need to request additional air support.”

The new rotary launchers will help increase the bomber’s smart weapons carrying capacity by 67%.

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Levandowski added: “Before these launchers, the B-52 was not capable of carrying smart weapons internally.

“Now each CRL allows for internal carriage, which adds an additional eight smart bombs per aircraft.”

“Now each CRL allows for internal carriage, which adds an additional eight smart bombs per aircraft.”

As part of the CRL programme, Barksdale’s Armament Flight took the responsibility of demonstrating its usage and maintenance capabilities of the systems.

The USAF required upgrading their current equipment in order to make them suitable for work with the new equipment.

Also, necessary training was provided to Barksdale and Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, US, who would also use the CRLs.

The new CRLs not only upgrade and enhance the capabilities of the B-52 bombers but also broaden the Air Force Global Strike Command mission of providing strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support.