Defense

September 20, 2013

Software update keeps B-52 at forefront of bomber fleet

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A1C Joseph Raatz
Barksdale AFB, La.

Maj. Chris Weir, left, and Capt. Greg Lepper, 96th Bomb Squadron B-52H Stratofortress navigators, navigate a B-52 during a Green Flag-East training mission over Fort Polk, La., Aug. 21, 2013. GF-E is a realistic air-land integration combat training exercise meant to replicate deployed warfare conditions.

The B-52 Stratofortress will soon receive a software upgrade that will keep the aircraft at the forefront of the U.S. strategic bomber fleet.

As new equipment and advanced weapons are added to the B-52 fleet, the B-52 Software Block (BSB) upgrades allow the aircraft to utilize the full potential of those new and improved systems.

“Think in terms of your home,” Air Force Global Strike Command B-52 program analyst Nathan Dawn said. “This is similar to when your cable provider gives you a new cable modem, so you upgrade the software on your wireless receiver to take better advantage of the modem’s updated capabilities.”

Many systems that make the B-52 a formidable force on the battlefield can be improved and enhanced by BSB upgrades, and new systems can be added as they become available, he said.

“The Offensive Avionics System, GPS, GPS Interface Unit and Advanced Targeting Pod computer are examples of hardware that are affected during BSB updates,” Dawn said. “Typically new lines of code are created to access new weapon or equipment capabilities such as the new ability to attack fast moving ground targets with smart weapons.”

One of the primary purposes of BSB cycles is to correct software errors and patch deficiencies not found during development and testing, Dawn said. Similar to home computer operating systems, new and more complex software is susceptible to errors. When one is found in any of the B-52’s systems, it is documented and becomes a high priority for repair in the next cycle of BSB upgrades.

The newest BSB upgrade is scheduled to attain full operational capability this fall, Dawn said. With it, the B-52 can continue to remain viable by adapting to the rapid advancement of technology in the battlespace.




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