Rusty Harris
Probably the last weapons system that we actually got our moneys worth out of is the B-52, although I bet the control yoke is probably the only original item on the aircraft ;)
Slowburn
The Buff's biggest problem is low survivability in contested airspace. In the end I expect that her replacement will be a converted transports.
windykites
All this weaponry, and no-one to bomb. Iran, perhaps? Hang on, they have anti-aircraft missiles. Damn!
This stuff only works against the Taliban, who have no defense whatsoever. Or, maybe it doesn't.
How come the B52 has such a long fatigue life? All the British V Bombers were grounded years ago. Perhaps American aluminum is better than British aluminium.
Jon A.
If we made a comparable airframe out of modern materials, with modern engines, I bet we could increase the range/fuel economy considerably. It's probably not worth doing that just for saturation bombing, though.
The B-52 is that type of tool that still gets used once on Sunday, and is worth keeping around for just that one task.
For anything going on in contested airspace, we use fighter/bombers like the F-18 and the F-16.
Nelson Hyde Chick
Rusty, the yoke was replaced a while back, so the only thing left is the airframe and wings.
BZD
So cool the B-52's keep going strong. I always found the plane to be strangely pretty as it with so many things where form follows function.
I wonder if watching Dr. Strangelove is part of mandatory flight training for the pilots :-)
Dawar Saify
US should work on a heavy stealth bomber, with greater range, storage and stealth and sell these off or convert as cargo aircraft. If it's obsolete in today's day and age then that should be accepted.
Slowburn
@ windykites1
When the B-52s were upgraded to the H model The wings were Zero Lifed and they have spent most of the time since then on the ground.
About 60% of the airplane date back to their first time down the assembly line. just as an aside the airframe flexes so much that only the pitot tubes and electronic warfare pods have deicing equipment, the rest of the plane flakes off the ice as it forms.
Gregg Eshelman
"US should work on a heavy stealth bomber, with greater range, storage and stealth and sell these off or convert as cargo aircraft. If it's obsolete in today's day and age then that should be accepted."
Already done and did. First there was the XB-70, but only two were built and one was accidentally run into by another plane and crashed.
The follow up is the B-1B. 100 were built and for some reason they just don't get the press coverage the old B-52 does.
Neither is as stealthy as the B-2, but that doesn't have the payload capacity of the B-52 or B-1B. The B-2 is a heavy strategic bomber, designed from the start for guided bombs.
The B-2 is a flying wing design of almost exactly the dimensions of Northrup's XB-49 and YB-49. Jack Northrup lived to see his ideas vindicated when he was shown a scale model of the B-2 and the production contract before he died. Northrup lost the contract to the B-52 when during a demonstration flight all the engines ran out of oil and the flying wing crashed, despite the oil tanks having been filled the night before. Had to be sabotage by Convair or someone in the military who just didn't like the idea of a flying wing. Nothing new there, "old school" military brass tried to stop adoption of the M-16 rifle by sabotaging the test prototypes during acceptance trials, and they've done the same many other times, including choosing the the worst performing "universal camoflage" pattern for the uniforms the Army has been stuck with the past decade instead of the obviously superior MultiCam pattern.
The F-117 "stealth fighter" was not a fighter. It was a light strategic bomber, though it may have been possible to carry missiles in its internal weapons bay.
Slowburn
@ Gregg Eshelman
The B-1 does not get the press because of the low availability of the planes for missions. Every time they plan a B-1 flight they prepare 2 planes. The idiots at Rockwell like fragile overcomplicated designs the space shuttle had the same problem.
The B-49 project was canceled right after one overflew a busy FAA control center without being seen even when they reviewed the tapes. Radar has gotten better since then.
The F-117 was a tactical bomber.