Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

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 will be 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 with the last, a B-52H, 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 with an average of 9,391 hours remaining as of December 31, 2013.

The Air Force has launched a program called the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) to develop 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. Also, optional manning has been discussed. The per unit target price is $550 million. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the LRS-B is planned for the mid-2020s. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have teamed up and will compete against Northrop Grumman, which built the nation's B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.


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 will/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 2014 DoD Program:

The primary upgrade/modification in FY 2014 is the B-52 Combat Network Communication Technology (CONECT) acquisition program, which will support nuclear and conventional operations by upgrading the B-52 fleet with data link and voice communications capabilities along with improved threat and situational awareness to support participation in network centric operations. Procurement funds in the amount of $100.6M have been allocated for B-52 modifications, support equipment and spares.

FY 2015 DoD Program:

FY 2015 continues the B-52 Combat Network Communication Technology (CONECT) acquisition program. Procurement funds in the amount of $193.3M have been allocated for F-22 modifications, support equipment and spares.

For more information, click to see the Complete FY 2015 B-52 DoD Budget.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), The Boeing Company,
Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: January 19, 2015.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (

External Resources:

Boeing's B-52 Site: 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 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of B-52 Stratofortress Aircraft in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

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)

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 (aircraft commander, pilot, 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 2013)

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; AGM-158 JASSM.

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