The US Air Force's (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress jet-powered strategic bomber has successfully dropped three joint attack surface standoff missiles (JASSMs) from the internal weapons bay for the first time.
The internal bay drop marks the first time the missile had been released from conventional rotary launcher (CRL), the USAF said in a statement.
USAF 412th Test Wing commander brigadier general Carl Schaefer said: “That was a first-ever for the B-52, and is also going to be another amazing enhancement in B-52 combat capability for Global Strike.
“I got to chase the first-ever JASSM drop from the internal weapons bay of the B-52.
"We dropped it right here on the range at Edwards.”
Lockheed Martin-built JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile that has been designed to destroy fixed and relocatable targets.
The missile's standoff range is said to protect aircrews from hostile air defence systems.
The bomber is capable of carrying up to 12 JASSMs on its wing pylons and the integration of CRL in internal weapons bay adds a capability of carrying eight more missiles, therefore increasing the B-52’s JASSM payload by more than 60%.
775th Test Squadron weapons integration engineer Brian Pinto said that carrying weapons internally would reduce drag, allowing the aircraft to fly further and faster.
The latest separation test was conducted as part of the first of three phases, and it is primarily focused on data collection.
The next phase, interim phase, will include more of the same testing, but with the addition of live weapons.
Phase III will validate the CLR system’s full capability.
Image: A B-52 releases a Joint Attack Surface Standoff Missile from internal weapons bay. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force image by Christian Turner.