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US upgrading long-serving B-52 to take on China

Transforming the venerable B-52 bomber into a cutting-edge warplane, the US is gearing up the long arm of its strategic airpower against a near-peer fight with China in the Pacific.

This month, The War Zone reported that the US is planning significant upgrades to its long-serving B-52 bomber. These upgrades would transform the Cold War-era bomber into a 21st-century warplane that could fly a century after its first flight.

The B-52 upgrades include new engines, a digital cockpit, AESA radar, updated avionics, improved pylons, electronic warfare enhancements and advanced weapons. Upgraded B-52s, designated the B-52J, will remain in service until the 2050s, serving alongside the B-21 Raider.

In discussing the specifics of the B-52J upgrade package, The War Zone mentions that new engines could provide significant cost savings, increase flight time between sorties, reduce the need for overhauls and offer various operational benefits. It notes that the candidate for the engine swap is the Rolls-Royce F130.

The War Zone says the B-52J will be upgraded with the AN/APG-79 radar, providing greater range, fidelity, countermeasure resistance, situational awareness, electronic warfare capabilities and air-to-air surveillance and tracking. The radar will also allow the B-52J to track moving sea and ground targets and guide networked weapons over long distances.

The publication also notes that the B-52J’s targeting pod could be slaved to the new radar and vice versa, which will help in visual target identification. It adds that the B-52J’s long loitering time and payload flexibility pair well with the new radar for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Regarding connectivity, The War Zone reports that the B-52J will feature