‘Aging’ B-52 Projected to Outlive Other Bombers
Often considered an "oldie, but a goodie", the B-52 could likely outlive its younger bomber siblings.
Is there anything greater in the sky than a B-52? In the Ark-La-Tex we are so familiar with this beast. We can identify that classic "sound of freedom" from miles away. There is no other aircraft that can carry, unload and deter like the BUFF.
Which may be why it's sticking around longer than other bombers.
According to the Associated Press, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced that the promise of a next-generation bomber could phase out others. From what I've read, this new B-21 bomber is supposed to fly like a fighter, but sting like a bomber. Of course, these are just rumors.
However, Wilson did say that the Air Force will start "retiring the B-1 and B-2 fleets as soon as it has built enough B-21s." Don't let that alarm you though. If the B-1s and B-2s are going anywhere, it won't be until after the year 2030.
As for the B-52s, they're staying.
This is good news as many families in our area are tied to the B-52. That BUFF is the reason there is food on the table. Wilson assures us that the number of bases with bombers will not decrease.
If the force structure we have proposed is supported by the Congress, bases that have bombers now will have bombers in the future. They will be B-52s and B-21s.
The Associate Press says that they will be a part of our force until mid-century, when the B-52 will be approaching its 100th birthday. Boeing began building these bombers in 1952 with eight different models coming off the line until 1962. Although I'd love to see this guy in the sky forever, it seems almost poetic to retire him at the century mark.
75 B-52s are left, split between Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. These planes have been a staple of our combat forces in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other places. There is such a heritage found in the B-52 and I enjoy the stories of young airmen flying under the same tail number as their grandfathers did. The very same aircraft, carrying out very different missions, all for the same reason... Freedom.
As for the other bombers. The B-1 was built in the 1970s and there are 62 in the fleet. The B-2 was developed in the 1980s. With a $1 billion price tag per aircraft, only 21 were built. There are 20 still active.
Can I get a "Murica!"?