The US Air Force’s (USAF) 96th Bomb Squadron has trained on the latest B-52 Stratofortress upgrade at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for the first time.
Following the internal weapons bay upgrade (IWBU) programme, the long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber can now carry up to eight GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) inside the bomb bay.
96th Bomb Squadron instructor weapon systems officer captain Kenny said: "IWBU nearly doubles the number of JDAMs a single plane can carry.
"This gives us the option to reduce the number of aircraft required to execute a mission, lowers our fuel requirements and provides us with more flexible loadouts, enabling us to strike a wider range of target types during any given mission."
Said to be one of the USAF’s most advanced precision-guided bombs, the JDAM uses GPS-assisted inertial navigation to deliver up to 2,000lb of high explosives with pinpoint accuracy.
It communicates with the aircraft using digital architecture in conjunction with a software component called Stores Management Overlay.
Kenny further added: "The IWBU to the B-52H provides increased carriage capability for precision weapons to include the GPS-guided oint Direct Attack Munition.
"This new capability also extends our range by reducing the amount of drag that external weapons produce."
Work under the upgradation included rewiring of the B-52’s internally carried conventional rotary launcher, thereby allowing it to carry and communicate with up to eight J-series weapons.
The external pylons of the bomber can now carry up to 16 of the laser-guided JDAM variant.
Image: A man working on the USAF’s B-52 Stratofortress bomber. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Senior Airman Benjamin Gonsier.