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B-52 Soars Over the Hill at 60, Snubs Retirement

Written by on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

If you had to create a list of the most well-known military aircraft models of all time, it’d be hard figuring which one deserves to be at the top of the list. F-22s, F-15s, and harrier jets would probably have to duke it out in the jet fighter category. For older aircraft it would probably be between Spitfires, the Mustang, and the German Messerschmitt BF 109. For bombers, though, it isn’t much a debate: that title goes to the B-52.

Appropriately dubbed the “Stratofortress,” these massive flying fortresses can deliver a devastating payload deep behind enemy lines. The most important word in that sentence is “can.” Notice that I didn’t say “used to” – B-52s are still operable after six decades in service. The year 2012 marks the 60th birthday of the B-52. That’s an age when many humans are looking at retirement, but the B-52 is stronger than ever.

If anything, the USAF expects to keep B-52s around until as late as 2040, which will total a staggering 88 years of service. Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Dutton, the B-52 command fleet manager for Global Strike Command, said, “It’s hard to put into words how well this aircraft was built and how well it’s been maintained over the last 50 or 60 years by our guys — out here on the flight line or deployed, it doesn’t matter.” He added, “It’s a purely awesome buy cheap antibiotics online machine.”

The B-52 hasn’t changed much over the decades, but the weapons that it’s forced to carry have certainly changed. Do B-52s struggle with the updated arsenal? Not hardly. Col. Russell Hart, chief of the bomber operations division at Global Strike Command, said, “When people ask, ‘What kind of armament, what kind of weapons can this thing carry?’ we basically say, ‘Well, pretty much the U.S. arsenal.’”

A whole set of new upgrades are in the world for this venerable bomber. It’s much more involved than just rolling the fleet into the shop to change their oil and give ’em a new transmission. These enhancements will allow B-52s to carry 40 percent more precision-guided bombs, and they also will utilize a more advanced radar system that can run for thousands of hours without maintenance.

The B-52 stands in stark contrast to the F-35, which is still in its infancy. It’s a bit odd that the USAF has a mix of old and new technology – top-of-the-line 2012 hardware flying alongside ancient bombers that were built in the early 50s. This creates interesting challenges for the USAF because of the vastly varying capabilities between aircraft. They need a wide array of expertise, from flexible pilots who can handle new prototype aircraft to experienced veterans, like the experts at Strike Fighter Consulting Inc., who know the ins and outs of some of the USAF’s oldest aircraft.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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