Boeing bolsters presence at Port San Antonio with B-52 radar modernization contract

Upgrades will cost approximately $2.8 billion

Two Air Force B-52s will undergo radar modernization at Port San Antonio. This is the first time this work has been done on this aircraft. (Boeing)

SAN ANTONIO – Two B-52s from the 307th Bomb Wing will undergo radar modernization as part of a $376 million Boeing contract with the US Air Force at Port San Antonio.

One of the B-52s arrived at the Boeing facility in San Antonio on May 25 to begin receiving the Active Electronically Scanned Array system (AESA), as part of the Air Force’s B-52 Radar Modernization Program, a press release said.

The initial work will be completed on two aircraft, but the second B-52 has not arrived yet.

The radar implementation — the first to be completed on this aircraft — will provide new target tracking capabilities on the surface and in the air. Additionally, the radar will increase system reliability and reduce sustainment costs.

“The arrival of this aircraft is a big deal, and signals the beginning of a key part of our effort to modernize the B-52 fleet,” said Col. Louis Ruscetta, Senior Materiel Leader for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s B-52 Program Office. “AESA will replace 1960s radar technology, and greatly increase the navigation and targeting capabilities of the B-52 in higher threat areas.”

AESA is designed for adaptability and situational awareness while enhancing an upgrade to navigation and targeting abilities.

“AESA will replace 1960s radar technology, and greatly increase the navigation and targeting capabilities of the B-52 in higher threat areas,” Ruscetta said.

While the B-52 was initially manufactured by Boeing, Raytheon, an aerospace and defense company, is assisting with the installation process.

“Boeing is the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] for the B-52, so their long-standing history and knowledge of the platform is really critical to making sure we can get this [AESA] out as quickly as possible,” Ruscetta said. We are also working with Raytheon on the radar side. Overall, the partnership helps ensure we have a government off-the-shelf solution that minimizes development and helps reduce both the development and test timelines.”

Installation of AESA is one of the largest upgrades to the B-52 in the history of the fleet. The effort will cost approximately $2.8 billion, with initial operational capability expected in 2027.

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Mason Hickok is a digital producer trainee at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, walking his dogs and listening to podcasts.