The B-52 Stratofortress, a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber, is set to receive an upgrade that will significantly increase its weapons payload.
Boeing will develop and produce six of these upgrades by April 2016. After those have been installed and tested, a new contract will be awarded for procurement of an additional 38 units.
All 1760 IWBUs should be online by October 2017, Williams said. With them, each B-52 will bring much more firepower to the fight.
The initial 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade will allow the B-52 to house up to eight advanced precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions in its internal weapons bay, in addition to the 12 it can currently carry on exterior weapons pylons.
"It will increase the B-52's overall carrying capacity by 67 percent," said Alan Williams, the B-52 Deputy Program element monitor at Air Force Global Strike Command.
The 1760 IWBU is based on rewiring the existing B-52 launcher into a Common Rotary Launcher, which carries the munitions and is housed in the B-52's bomb bay. The rewiring allows the B-52 to communicate with the newest weapons in the Air Force's arsenal.
While the B-52 has long been able to carry JDAMs and other cutting-edge weapons from that family, on an exterior pylon under each wing, the interior weapons bay was not equipped to communicate with those types of munitions.
The addition, the wiring in the internal weapons bay also lays the groundwork for future expansion to other advanced weapons.
"By having 1760 in the bay, it allows us to upgrade the aircraft," Williams said. "As new J-Series weapons come onboard, all we have to do is rewrite the software and add those weapons to the aircraft inventory. For instance, increment 1.2 will add the JASSM-Extended Range missile and the MALD-J missile into the complement in the bay," Williams said, adding that these missiles will bring greater mission flexibility to the B-52.