The US Air Force (USAF) plans to upgrade the radar on its fleet of Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers to new active electronically scanned array (AESA) systems, which will be developed by Raytheon.

Boeing says it selected Raytheon to design, develop, produce and sustain the radars, which will be based on the company’s APG-79/APG-82 radar family used on the USAF’s F-15E fleet. Low rate initial production is scheduled to start in 2024 and the radar is intended to be used on the bomber fleet beyond 2050.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress


Boeing says the AESA radar will improve navigation reliability of the B-52 for nuclear and conventional strike missions. The AESA radar is more reliable than the bombers’ current mechanically scanned radars because it has no moving parts and uses better operating software.

The B-52s’ AESA radars will also have improved mapping and detection ranges, as well as an increase in the number of targets that can simultaneously engaged, says the company. Greater detection ranges could help the crew of the bomber launch cruise missiles, such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, from stand-off distances.

In April, Boeing won a $14.3 billion contract for upgrade work for Rockwell B-1 Lancer and B-52 bombers.