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System increases B-52 target precision

6/14/2005 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- Along with successfully developing a new targeting capability for the B-52 Stratofortress, 53rd Wing test managers and aircrews also demonstrated a new $8.6 million avionics system capability for the aircraft June 14.

A B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., was launched with Boeing’s prototype integrated weapons interface unit that allowed the bomber to release, for the first time, eight 2,000 pound joint-direct attack munitions from the internal bomb bay. The test took place at the Utah Test and Training Range.

The unit was developed by Boeing during a two-year sustainment program aimed at replacing the four aging line replaceable units currently carried in the B-52. The June 14 demonstration showed that the prototype interface unit, when fully developed and qualified for production, is capable of replacing the existing replaceable units and as a result, extending the combat role of the B-52.

The test sortie also demonstrated the B-52’s capability to increase the number of JDAM weapons the B-52 can carry from 12 to 20, an increase of 60 percent. There is no existing program to formally pursue this capability, however, the demonstration allowed proof of the concept and provides future risk reduction.

Wing officials have also developed a new targeting capability for the B-52. Its newest modification involves a radio-modified targeting pod known as the litening intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance pod and ground-based radio receiver equipment, collectively known as “Rover.”

The litening pod and Rover are used to transmit real-time imagery of close-air support targets between ground forces and aircrews, increasing precision in target identification and communication.

Grumman designed, coded and integrated the required programming for the bomber and the targeting pod. Ground software integration and aircraft interference checks were completed in less than one week to be ready for sorties with the Army’s 172nd Striker Brigade during a recent exercise at Fort Polk, La., officials said.

Exercise sorties not only confirmed the B-52’s capability to successfully integrate the pod, it also provided Soldiers with valuable validation and training with their hard-mounted Rover radio systems just before deploying to Iraq.

The pod is currently carried by the B-52, the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Marine Harrier.

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