The path to the B-52J
The designation change resolves an ongoing debate over what to call the upgraded B-52, as the aircraft will undergo several upgrades in its 61-year lifespan.
In addition to the new engines, the B-52 will also receive new radar, updated communication and navigation systems, and new weapons. These improvements are designed to keep the aircraft relevant and capable well into the 2050s.
Global Strike Command had considered using provisional designations for the “J” model, which would later become the B-52K.
Change in the arsenal of weapons.
Among the upgraded weapons the B-52 was expected to receive was the AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon ( ARRW ) hypersonic missile. However, the Air Force plans to “shut down” the program after some additional testing and shift its focus to the hypersonic attack cruise missile (HACM).
The name of the B-52 reengineering project has also changed from the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) to CERP RVP for Rapid Virtual Prototyping.
Budget and improvements
The Air Force requests almost 3,000 million dollars for B-52 acquisitions in the coming years. The Radar Modernization Program demands 845.9 million dollars of this total amount.
Engine upgrade and fuel savings
The retrofit program has funding of $2.56 billion, with a maximum of $650.5 million in 2025. It seeks to replace Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines with Rolls-Royce F130 engines. The engine swap is expected to result in 30% fuel savings and the elimination of engine overhauls, as the F130 will not require overhauls for its entire B-52 life.
The Air Force expects the B-52Js with new engines and radars to be available for operational use before the decade’s end.