Boeing gets nod to upgrade avionics displays and weapons control on the B-52 strategic bomber

WICHITA, Kan., 10 Dec. 2006. Engineers from the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems division in Wichita, Kan., are making plans to upgrade the avionics of the B-52 strategic bomber by installing color displays and enabling the aircraft to fire laser-guided weapons.

WICHITA, Kan., 10 Dec. 2006. Engineers from the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems division in Wichita, Kan., are making plans to upgrade the avionics of the B-52 strategic bomber by installing color displays and enabling the aircraft to fire laser-guided weapons.

Boeing won a $7.2 million contract modification Dec. 8 for engineering change proposal (ECP) 659-011-3 for the B-52 Alternate Mission Equipment (AME) replacement. The contract number is FA34601-94-C-0005/P00078.

The ECP replaces AGM-142 equipment on the B-52 with the new AME system that doubles the size of the current display, provides a color monitor compared to the current black and white, and will enable the B-52 to use laser-guided weapons in a way that the half-century-old aircraft cannot do today.

The contract modification comes from the Air Force's Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The eight-engine B-52 Strato Fortress long-range jet bomber first flew in 1954, and for decades was the mainstay of U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy. In recent years the aircraft primarily has been converted for conventional missions and drops large bombs and fires cruise missiles, among other kinds of ordnance.

The B-52H made its first flight in 1961, and is still in service. In all, 744 B-52s were produced by Seattle- and Wichita, Kan.-based Boeing plants between 1952 and 1962. The B-52s saw active duty in the Vietnam War, were used in the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and over Afghanistan in 2001.

Throughout the 1950s the B-52 cut the round-the-world speed record in half, and in January 1962 flew 12,500 miles nonstop from Japan to Spain without refueling -- a flight that broke 11 distance and speed records.

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