According to a recent Air Force Global Strike Command announcement, a number of Tinker Air Force Base (Oklahoma) Airmen will perform a series of ground maintenance and mission planning software tests in support of a new Air Force contract that will increase the B-52 Stratofortress’ “smart-weapons” capacity by 50%.
As part of the agreement, Boeing will be making a modification to existing weapon launchers so the aircraft can carry smart weapons in the bomb bay, enabling aircrews to use the entire weapons capacity of the B-52. Jennifer Hogan of Boeing Communications, says in the announcement, “With this modification, we're converting the bomb bay from dropping just gravity-type bombs to releasing precision-guided weapons.”
The new smart-weapons upgrades will be combined with the earlier Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) system upgrade, a new digital network that allows computers aboard the B-52 to detect what types of weapons are connected to its hard points and weapons bay, then adapting itself accordingly. The CONECT system will enable the B-52 to modify its mission and weapon targeting mid-flight for increased effectiveness.
To ensure these upgrades are successfully implemented, engineers from the 76th Software Maintenance Group, 557th Software Maintenance Squadron, and B-52 Software Avionics Flight will be performing a series of software tests to ensure the Prime Mission Equipment is capable of communicating with the Avionics Control Units.
The B-52 is the longest serving bomber in the U.S. inventory and in order for modifications and upgrades to be successfully implemented, software testing will likely play a large role in the process.