Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

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Product Type:

Heavy Strategic bomber

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

No more new aircraft will be procured.
Focus is on upgrades, modifications and sustainment.

Prime Contractor:

The Boeing Company

The B-52H Stratofortress

About the B-52 Stratofortress:

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.

The B-52 is equipped with the AN/APQ-166 Strategic Radar system. The Strategic Radar Replacement (SR2) program was supposed to replace the AN/APQ-166 (fielded in the 1960s), however, the B-52 SR2 program was terminated in FY 2013 for higher priorities.

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 and a total of 58 B-52H aircraft are in active service with the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB in North Dakota and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. Another 18 aircraft are assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 917th Wing at Barksdale AFB.

Engineering analyses predict the B-52's life span to extend beyond the year 2040. The B-52H has a certified service life of 27,701 flight hours and the fleet averages 18,771 airframe hours as of December 31, 2015.

The Air Force is currently developing the B-21 Raider aka Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), which is the replacement platform for the B-52H and B-1B Lancer. The target is a production of 80-100 aircraft that are stealthy and capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The official per unit target price is $550 million but, in September 2016, it was reported that the unit price will likely be closer to $511 million. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the B-21 is planned for the mid-2020s. In late October 2015, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman the contract to build the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) - named B-21 Raider in September 2016. The company was selected over a joint bid by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.


The B-52 carries a wide range of weapons, 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 be fielded on the B-52, include the AGM-158B JASSM-ER and the massive GBU-57 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). For more details, see specifications below.


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 2016 DoD Program:

FY 2016 provides $144.9 million for modifications and upgrades to the B-52 weapon system. The primary modifications in FY 2016 are the B-52 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade and the B-52 Combat Network Communications Technology Capability Improvement. FY 16 also provides $74.5 million for RDT&E.

FY 2017 DoD Program:

FY 2017 requests $109.0 million for modifications and upgrades to the B-52 weapon system. The primary modification in FY 2017 is the B-52 Combat Network Communications Technology Capability Improvement. FY 17 also requests $78.3 million for RDT&E.

For more information, click to see the FY 2017 USAF B-52 Modifications Budget.

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

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2017 Budget

Last Update: September 22, 2016.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (

External Resources:

Boeing: B-52 Stratofortress

Lockheed Martin: Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP)
Northrop Grumman: AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING Targeting Pod

YouTube: B-52 Stratofortress | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: Not Available

B-52 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the B-52 Stratofortress in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
DoD Purchases of B-52 Stratofortress Aircraft in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2013/14/15 + Budget for FYs 2016 + 2017

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the B-52 Stratofortress Program

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Modification of B-52 Aircraft (USAF) Spares and Repair Parts (USAF) B-52 Support Equipment (USAF)
RDT&E: B-52 Squadrons

Aircraft Specifications: B-52H Stratofortress

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Primary Function: Heavy strategic bomber
Prime Contractor: The Boeing Co.
Power plant: 8x Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines
Thrust: 17,000 lbs (each engine)
Wingspan: 185 ft (56.4 m)
Length: 159 ft 4 in (48.5 m)
Height: 40 ft 8 in (12.4 m)
Weight (Empty): 185,000 lbs (83,250 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 488,000 lbs (219,600 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 312,197 lbs (141,613 kg)
Payload: 70,000 lbs (31,750 kg)
Speed: Mach 0.86/565 kts/650 mph (1,046 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,152 meters)
Range: 7,652 nm/8,806 miles (14,172 km)
Combat Radius: 3,890 nm/4,477 miles (7,208 km)
Crew: Five (two pilots, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
Price/Unit Cost: $53.4 million (FY1998 constant dollars)
First Flight: April 15, 1952 (YB-52 prototype)
Deployed: 1954
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): June 19, 1955
Aircraft Inventory: Total: 76x B-52H; Active: 58x B-52H; Reserve: 18x B-52H (as of September 2015)

Armament/Weapons: Up to 70,000 lbs (31,750 kg) of mixed ordnance.
12x AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCM) externally with provision for eight more AGM-86Bs or gravity weapons internally.
Other Weapons Carried: AGM-86C/D CALCM; Mk 82 500-pound General Purpose Bombs; Mk 84 2,000-pound General Purpose Bombs;
Mk 62 500-pound Quickstrike Naval Mines; Mk 65 2,000-pound Quickstrike Naval Mines; CBU-87 1,000-pound Combined Effects Munition; CBU-89 GATOR Mine System; CBU-97 1,000-pound Sensor Fuzed Weapon;
CBU-103/104/105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers (WCMD);
GBU-38 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); GBU-31 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM);
GBU-10/12 Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs; GBU-28 5,000-pound Bunker Buster Bombs; AGM-154 JSOW;
and AGM-158 JASSM (up to 12 JASSM on wing pylons and an additional eight in the internal weapon bay).

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