Long time follower here, only now have developed my first design; a kitbash of PierreDeveaux, Eswube and Deadright's awesome B-52
, into a fantasy B-52K for the UK Royal Air Force.
I'll caveat that the fit-out might not be totally legit from an EM physics perspective - i.e. can you have all those antennae poking out and do you even need all of them? But let's just say that is down to artistic licence.
Thoughts, feedback and critique welcome!
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UK RAF B-52K Sensor-Shooter Concept (2025)
Shown in the pic is the B-52K in 617 Sqn RAF decals and with two triple-racks on the starboard pylon for carrying 6 LRASM in the anti-shipping role
As the world moves towards multipolarity, the UK identifies a need for an independent, long-ranged strike platform to augment the combat mass of its handful of F-35 and Typhoon squadrons. A number of options are looked at, including participating in the US B-21 Raider program and collaborating with the EU on a clean-sheet design. Ultimately, the MoD decides to take advantage of a USAF B-52s which have recently found to be in surplus (in part due to the success of the B-21 Raider). The US Congress approves a FMS for 10 of B-52s with the fewest flight hours for sale to the UK RAF.
A consortium of Airbus UK, Cobham, Marshall Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and Israeli defence firm Elta form to upgrade and modify the B-52s to UK specification (dubbed the B-52 Kilo).
The UK MoD allocates GBP 300 million for the purchase of the 10 a/c (1 one of which to be used as spares), GBP 1.8 billion for modifications and spares, and GBP 250 million for infrastructure works; for a total program cost of GBP 2.35 billion or GBP 262 million / USD 323 million per unit.
The UK sees this has the third pillar of its conventional expeditionary strike capability (alongside the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers and 16 Air Assault Brigade), intended for first-day-of-war precision stand-off strike. The UK employs the B-52K to either rapidly deploy firepower at short notice - such as it did in the 2017 missile strikes against Syria - or to augment forward-deployed UK and allied land and maritime assets (such as the UK Carrier Strike Group).
The B-52K is capable of independent deployment and forced penetration into contested airspace through employing precision stand-off weapons. It is a sharpshooter for every air-launched weapon in the UK arsenal, from cruise missiles to bombs and naval mines, with up to 28,000 kg payload at a combat radius of 5,000 miles. A common MoD claim is that a pair of B-52Ks together armed with 24x LRASM and 48x SPEAR 3 anti-shipping munitions could control the South China Sea.
The B-52K includes several major systems and hardware modifications.
Units and formation
- The entire wing is remanufactured with lighter materials and strengthened, creating a new 'hump' on the top of the fuselage.
- The 8 engines are replaced with 4x CFM International LEAP-1A (rated at 33,000 lb of thrust) as used on the A321neo, providing efficiency and reducing maintenance requirements.
- The most significant electronics fit is the inclusion of the IAI/Elta EL/W-2085 AESA radar array on the port and starboard 'cheeks' of the forward fuselage - as used by the Singaporeans and Israelis on the Phalcon AEW - providing the B-52K with an independent, organic air surveillance capability.
- The B-52K also includes the AN/APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar as used on the P-8 Poseidon, providing a land and maritime surface surveillance capability.
- MAD boom for detecting submarines, and flying low to drop air-launched torpedoes.
- Wingtip pods for ECM and LITENING.
- Fitted with drogue for IFR with the RAF Voyager.
- Systems integration for full range of UK air-launched weapons, plus LRASM and AARGM - which will be two new munitions in the RAF inventory.
- Upgrades are made to the flight deck, more akin to an A321.
The UK RAF re-roles the legendary 617 Sqn ('The Dambusters') currently based at RAF Marham from the F-35B Lightning to take up its historic role as the RAF's premier strategic strike unit. The unit stands up at recently reactivated RAF Fairford which was previously home to the USAF B-52Hs in Europe, taking advantage of much of the existing infrastructure. 9 a/c form the unit.