B-52 heavy bombers to undergo radar and electronic protection upgrade

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The United States Air Force (USAF) awarded US-based defense technology company L3Harris a contract to upgrade the electronic warfare and radar system of its B-52 Stratofortress aircraft. 

The contract, valued at $947 million, will help the USAF modernize the B-52 heavy bomber’s avionics system for combat operations until 2031.

L3Harris will enhance the Stratofortress’s electronic warfare (EW) self-protection system and integrate a combat-proven radiofrequency system that can simultaneously counter multiple electronic spectrum threats without interfering with the aircraft’s operations. 

“Competition for the electromagnetic spectrum is fierce, and without spectrum dominance, our armed forces lose competitive advantage,” stated Ed Zoiss, president of L3Harris space and airborne systems, on October 5, 2021. “It’s critical to continue upgrading our platforms to maintain spectrum superiority.” 

L3Harris says it has an option to expand the scope of its work from software sustainment to hardware upgrades under the new contract.

The B-52 bomber aircraft have specially-designed countermeasure systems to avoid aerial defensive systems, including radar detection and jamming. L3Harris has supported the B-52 heavy bomber aircraft’s electronic warfare systems for the past five decades.

The workhorse of US deterrence

The USAF has been focusing on modernizing its B-52 heavy bombers for warfare and combat operations. 

Rolls-Royce was recently awarded a contract to supply F130 engines for the B-52 Stratofortress fleet under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP).

The B-52 Stratofortress aircraft is a long-range strategic bomber aircraft built and designed by Boeing in the 1950s. The plane can carry weapon payloads up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kilograms) and fly more than 8,800 miles (14,080 kilometers) without aerial refueling. It is powered by eight engines and was designed to carry nuclear bombs for missions during the cold war.

The USAF currently operates 58 of the B-52 bombers in its fleet, which are expected to serve until the 2050s.


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