The B-52 is at it again. The relatively ancient bomber is on a path to become far more capable than it ever has been as the USAF now plans for it to serve into the second half of the century and even possibly past its 100th birthday. New engines, communications equipment, weapons racks, and sensors are included in an emerging upgrade roadmap that will keep the bomber relevant for decades to come, but the BUFF's new arsenal of weapons is probably what's most exciting about this initiative.
Beyond a number of hypersonic weapons and guileful air-launched decoy jammers, this new weapons menu includes the Quickstrike family of naval mines equipped with JDAM-ER guided wing kits. This weapon gives the big bomber the unprecedented ability to lay down entire minefields over wide areas, in a single pass, with pinpoint accuracy, and all while standing-off at over 40 miles away.
Proof of this emerging capability was recently captured on video showing a B-52H launching on a training sortie from Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam during exercise Valiant Shield—a biennial U.S. only set of drills that focus on interoperability and high-end tactics employment. In the video, the bomber is clearly seen equipped with four of these still very rare weapons. A P-8 Poseidon is also seen monitoring their impact on the water's surface.
A Quickstrike mine is used in relatively shallow waters of about 300 feet or less. It is delivered by aircraft and sits on the seafloor awaiting targets of opportunity. The weapon itself is a Mark 80 series general purpose bomb that has been adapted into a mine via the installation of an arming device in its nose and a target detection device in its tail.
The target detection device will detonate when a vessel passes within lethal range of its position on the seafloor. Arming devices and target detection devices can be used in tandem to activate a mind field for a certain window in time and to only detonate when the acoustic/seismic/magnetic signature of certain vessels is detected.
Advanced naval mines can be very discriminating as to which vessels qualify to receive their deadly payload and when. The Quickstrike family of components has been upgraded in recent years to keep pace with these developments, although their exact capabilities aren't known. (end of excerpt)
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