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Originally published September 29, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Page modified September 30, 2010 at 6:38 AM

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Boeing gets B-52 weapons contract worth up to $12 billion

Boeing announced Wednesday it has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract to modernize over eight years the weapon systems on B-52 Stratofortress long-range bombers.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Boeing announced Wednesday it has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract to modernize over eight years the weapon systems on B-52 Stratofortress long-range bombers.

Boeing said that "no funds were committed with this contract announcement," though it expects the first delivery order Thursday.

The Air Force stipulated a ceiling on the so-called "indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity" contract — an eye-popping $11.9 billion. That's $140 million for each of the Air Force's active fleet of 85 B-52s.

The jet's structural design is more than 50 years old and the last one was built in 1962. But the aircraft's systems have been constantly updated since then, and the Air Force currently intends to fly the planes until 2040.

In June 2009, Boeing received a $750 million, 10-year Air Force contract to provide engineering support for the B-52 fleet, including software, communications, avionics and electrical upgrades, structural analysis and re-wiring.

The B-52s, eight-engine heavy bombers built in Wichita, Kan., can carry air-launched cruise missiles as well as conventional and precision-guided "smart bombs."

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