B-52 Stratofotress: We Make Nightmares

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered, strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1955. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. Although a veteran of a number of wars, the Stratofortress has dropped only conventional munitions in actual combat. The B-52 carries up to 70000 pounds of weapons with an unrefueled range of nearly 9000 miles. The B-52 also carries the largest assortment of weapons of any aircraft in the US inventory. In January 2005, the B-52 became the second aircraft, after the English Electric Canberra, to mark 50 years of continuous service with its original primary operator. Even while the Air Force works on new bombers scheduled for 2018 and 2037 it intends to keep the B-52H in service until at least 2040, nearly 80 years after production ended. This is an unprecedented length of service for a military aircraft. The USAF continues to rely on the B-52 because it remains an effective and economical heavy bomber, particularly in the type of missions that have been conducted since the end of the Cold War, mainly against nations that have limited air defense capabilities. The B-52's capacity to "loiter" for extended periods over (or even well outside) the battlefield, while delivering precision standoff and direct fire munitions, has been a valuable asset in conflicts such as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The <b>…</b>