The United States Air Force recently announced its plan to continue to fly it’s fleet of 76 B-52 Bombers until the year 2050 — which will make the fleet of planes 88 years old at that time. But these planes won’t look or behave anything like a human octogenarian.
While the fleet of planes has continued to receive updates and upgrades since originally manufactured by Boeing in the 1960’s, the Air Force recently announced it’s a plan to fully modernize the fleet, to the tune of $3.2 billion over the next 5 years:
These potential new upgrades will build on recent and ongoing modernization and modification programs, including the modification of the bomb bay’s common rotary launcher to allow the simultaneous launch of more smart weapons from the internal bay (combat-proven in November 2017) and the Combat Network Communication Technology (CONECT) upgrade that added digital display screens, computer network servers, and real-time beyond-line-of-sight communication links. Link 16 will be integrated from 2020. All of these improvements could potentially result in the allocation of a new B-52J designation.In total, the service has allocated nearly $2.1 billion for development and over $1.3 billion for the production of B-52 modernization and capability improvements over the next five years. The most important elements in the planned upgrade will center on the provision of new engines and radars.
The jockeying has already begun over the contract for the engines that are part of the B-52 overhaul. The contract is expected to be awarded by the Air Force in the third quarter of FY2019 (the end of June 2020) and will include some $727.5 million for the development phase of the project between Fiscal Years 2019-2023. In the running are Rolls-Royce, General Electric (GE), Northrop Grumman (NOC) and Pratt & Whitney, which is a United Technologies (UTX) company. The awarding of this contract will be a great win for company within the Safety & Security investment theme index, which ever one gets it.