Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

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Product Type:
Heavy Strategic bomber

Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:
Sustainment and upgrades incl. new AESA radar and re-engining.

Prime Contractor:
The Boeing Company

The B-52H Stratofortress

About the B-52 Stratofortress:

By Forecast International /// The following is a snapshot of the B-52 program. For complete data and a forecast outlook, please view our Military Aircraft Forecast


The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy strategic bomber capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. The latest version of the aircraft, the B-52H, can carry as much as 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance and can be equipped with up to 20 air-launched cruise missiles. For more than 50 years, the B-52 Stratofortress has been the backbone of the U.S. strategic bomber force. Updated with modern technology, the B-52 will be capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of U.S. defenses.

The B-52H is powered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines, each delivering 17,000 pounds of thrust. In September 2021, the Rolls-Royce F130 turbofan won the $2.6 billion Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) contract to re-engine the B-52 bomber fleet. The F130 is a military derivative of the BR700 engine, which powers regional jets and corporate jets. The Air Force plans to order 608 new engines for the fleet of 76 B-52H bombers. The F130 engine is already flying on the C-37 transport and E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).

The B-52 is equipped with the AN/APQ-166 Strategic Radar system. The B-52 Strategic Radar Replacement (SR2) program was supposed to replace the AN/APQ-166 (fielded in the 1960s), however, the SR2 program was terminated in FY 2013. In 2019, Raytheon Technologies was selected to develop and produce an AESA radar for the B-52 Radar Modernization program. Raytheon's B-52 radar will be based on AESA technologies from the AN/APG-79/-82 radar family. All aircraft in the B-52 fleet will be upgraded with the new radar.

Some speculate that re-engined and radar upgraded B-52 aircraft will be redesignated as B-52J models.

In 2013, Lockheed Martin's Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) achieved operational flight status on the B-52H. The pod provides pilots with high-resolution imagery for precision targeting and non-traditional ISR missions. Also, Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod is operational on the B-52.

Apart from performing strategic bombing missions, the B-52 is also effective when used for ocean surveillance, where the aircraft can assist the U.S. Navy in anti-ship and mine-laying operations. In just two hours, two B-52s can monitor 140,000 square miles of ocean surface.

A total of 744 B-52s were built (of which 102 were B-52H models) with the last aircraft delivered in October 1962. Only the B-52H variant is still in the Air Force inventory. The Air Force presently maintains 76 B-52Hs in its inventory. Engineering analyses predict the B-52's life span to extend beyond the year 2040.

The Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider was planned to be the replacement platform for the B-52, however, the Air Force later decided to retain the Stratofortress due to its versatility, better maintenance record and its cruise-missile-launching capability. Instead the B-2 Spirit will be retired along with the B-1B Lancer.


The B-52 carries a wide range of weaponry, including AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs) (both internally and externally). Among other types of ordnance, the aircraft can carry AGM-86C/D CALCM, Mk 62 500-pound sea mines; 500-pound Mk 82 or 2,000-pound Mk 84 General Purpose Bombs as well as CBU-87/89/97, CBU-103/104/105 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (WCMD), and Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs. The B-52 also carries GBU-31/38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM), and AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW). Future weapons that may/will be fielded on the B-52, include the AGM-181 Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) Weapon (will replace the AGM-86B (ALCM)), AGM-158B JASSM-ER and the massive GBU-57 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).


The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber able to perform a variety of missions. The B-52 is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.

FY 2021 & FY 2022 - B-52 DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Forecast International,
The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies,
and Rolls-Royce.

Military Aircraft Forecast:

Complete and detailed information, including production forecast data, is provided in our Market Intelligence Service: Military Aircraft Forecast.

Forecast International Budget Data:

With Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, you not only get the latest program news, the DoD funding, worldwide inventories and planned quantities, long range forecasts, but most important – an expert's rationale for all programs and the overall market.

DoD Spending in FY 2018, FY 2019, FY 2020, FY 2021 and FY 2022 + 5-year forecast

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