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Until now, the slightly newer 1960s H-model aircraft has been unable to drop conventional, precision-guided weapons from its belly. The new digital rotary launcher changes that, by allowing each B-52 to carry eight Boeing-made joint direct attack munitions internally, and eventual extended-range joint air-to-surface standoff missiles (JASSM-ERs) built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon miniature air-launched decoys.
This means that the B-52 can now carry smart weapons on its wings, and internally – either increasing its destructive power or reducing fuel consumption on long flights by housing weapons internally to reduce drag.
That potent combination of MALD and JASSM-ERs makes the non-stealthy “Stratofortress” a flexible, fist-day-of-war combat aircraft that can destroy targets from hundreds of kilometres away and provide decoy support for flocks of front-line fighter jets. Those six launchers can be swapped between the B-52 fleet.