Electronic Weapons: EB-52 Back From The Dead


July 3, 2008:The U.S. Air Force has revived a program to convert some of its B-52 heavy bombers into radar jamming aircraft. This would be done by equipping the bombers with jamming pods (that are similar in appearance to large bombs). The air force plans to buy 24 sets of pods, for a force of 34 B-52s. Each pair of pods would cost about $100 million (including development.) There would be some modification to the B-52s, so members of the crew could operate the jammers.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, a version of the F-111 carried out this function, and did it very well. But the air force retired the EF-111 a decade ago, and agreed to split the cost, and share the use, of U.S. Navy jamming aircraft. The U.S. Navy is just introducing the EA-18G jamming aircraft (based on the F-18) to replace the 40 year old EA-6B jamming aircraft. The air force believes the navy won't buy enough EA-18Gs to meet navy and air force needs. So the B-52 is being brought in to help out. The navy plans to buy about fifty EA-18Gs, for about $73 million each. It will take at least five years to get the EB-52 into service. The last attempt at this was cancelled because the costs got out of control. But this time the manufacturers assure everyone that everything is under control. Really. Seriously.


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