B-52 upgrade allows greater load of smart munitions

The USAF’s B-52 Stratofortress bombers are expected to get an upgrade that will allow them to drop even more bombs than ever before.

The USAF at Barksdale Air Force Base has been testing a major upgrade for the revolutionary Conventional Rotary Launchers of the decades-old bombers. The upgrade will increase the number of munitions a single B-52 bomber can drop at one time, according to an Air Force news release.

CRLs are rotating munition systems located inside the bomb bay that allow the heavy, long-range bombers to carry a larger and more varied payload of conventional smart bombs and other guided munitions.

“Before these launchers, the B-52 was not capable of carrying smart weapons internally,” Master Sgt. Adam Levandowski, the Air Forces Strategic Armament Systems manager, said when the first CRLs were delivered to the service in November 2017. “Now each CRL allows for internal carriage, which adds an additional eight smart bombs per aircraft,” he further explained.

The addition of the new CRLs increased the B-52’s smart weapon carrying capacity by 67 percent.

B-52 bombers flew into battle with the new launchers for the first time in December 2017, setting a new record for largest number of bombs ever dropped from the airframe.