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Conventional Rotary Launcher upgrade tested

Aircraft armament systems specialists assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to load an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile onto a trailer at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, February 9, 2019. The JASSM’s were part of a test of the Conventional Rotary Launcher, a weapons platform on the B-52 Stratofortress.  The test was designed to see if the CRL could provide power to eight JASSM’s at once.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Maxwell Daigle)

Aircraft armament systems specialists assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to load an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile onto a trailer at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, February 9, 2019. The JASSM’s were part of a test of the Conventional Rotary Launcher, a weapons platform on the B-52 Stratofortress. The test was designed to see if the CRL could provide power to eight JASSM’s at once. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Maxwell Daigle)

Charles Wilson, Jr., an Air Reserve Technician assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, gives the thumbs up sign at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Feb. 6, 2019.  Wilson, along with other Reserve Citizen Airmen, was preparing the Conventional Rotary Launcher for a test to see if the weapons system could provide power to eight munitions at once. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Charles Wilson, Jr., an Air Reserve Technician assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, gives the thumbs up sign at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Feb. 6, 2019. Wilson, along with other Reserve Citizen Airmen, was preparing the Conventional Rotary Launcher for a test to see if the weapons system could provide power to eight munitions at once. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Japheth Wyatt, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loader, guides an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile onto a B-52 Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Feb. 6, 2019.  The JASSM’s were placed on a Conventional Rotary Launcher to test its ability to provide power to eight munitions at once.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Japheth Wyatt, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loader, guides an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile onto a B-52 Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Feb. 6, 2019. The JASSM’s were placed on a Conventional Rotary Launcher to test its ability to provide power to eight munitions at once. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

U.S. Air Senior Master Sgt. John Paxton, 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems superintendent, inspect an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile prior to loading on a Conventional Rotary Launcher at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Feb. 6, 2019.  The JASSM’s were part of a test conducted by Reserve Citizen Airmen and active duty to see if upgrades to the CRL would allow it to power eight of the munitions simultaneously.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

U.S. Air Senior Master Sgt. John Paxton, 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems superintendent, inspect an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile prior to loading on a Conventional Rotary Launcher at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Feb. 6, 2019. The JASSM’s were part of a test conducted by Reserve Citizen Airmen and active duty to see if upgrades to the CRL would allow it to power eight of the munitions simultaneously. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Aircraft armament systems specialists assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron unload an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile from a Conventional Rotary Launcher at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, February 9, 2019. The munitions were placed on the CRL by Reserve Citizen Airmen during a test to see if the weapons platform could power on eight JASSM’s at one time.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Maxwell Daigle)

Aircraft armament systems specialists assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron unload an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile from a Conventional Rotary Launcher at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, February 9, 2019. The munitions were placed on the CRL by Reserve Citizen Airmen during a test to see if the weapons platform could power on eight JASSM’s at one time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Maxwell Daigle)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

An upgrade to the B-52 Stratofortress and the Conventional Rotary Launcher, was tested here, Feb. 11, 2019.  The change is designed to increase mission flexibility and make the B-52 more lethal in a combat environment.

The CRL, a weapons system designed for the B-52, can carry a variety of munitions, allowing for greater mission flexibility.  However, it is limited to supplying power to only four munitions at a time.

Maj. Jason McCargar, a 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron unit project officer, said the new rendition can nearly double the number of weapons that can be powered at one time. 

The improved efficiency has the potential to lower risk in combat environments, increase the number of weapons in theater of operations and lower the number of aircraft needed for missions. 

“The Conventional Rotary Launcher has a high power draw, so an air crew could only power up four munitions at a time without risking blowing circuit breakers in mid-flight,” said McCargar.  “With this upgrade, it can now have  eight ready at once.”

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Pierce, 307th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament superintendent, was part of the effort to bring the CRL online at Barksdale back in 2017.  He said the ability to carry a full power load to all munitions on the CRL, in addition to another 12 under the B-52’s wings, has the potential to improve the jet’s lethality in combat.

“Now, a B-52 going into a war zone has the ability to put 20 munitions on a target area very quickly,” he said. “Before, they would have to drop some of their munitions, power up the CRL again and then make another pass.”

In addition to being able to deliver more munitions in less time, the modified CRL can also carry greater payloads of specific kinds of munitions.  Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron loaded eight AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles on the CRL as part of the testing.

“The entire effort to modify the CRL moved pretty quickly,” said Pierce. “The bottom line is yesterday we had the capability to deliver 16 weapons at one time and today we can deliver 20 of them.”

Once testing is complete, the rest other CRL’s in the Air Force inventory will be modified to the specifications of the test launcher.