Tag Archives: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

Check Out This Really Unusual “Formation”: USAF B-1Bs, B-52H, KC-135R Escorted by Russian SU-27 Over Baltic.

Here are some extraordinary pictures of a really unsual “close encounter” over the Baltic Sea.

In yet another sensational encounter between U.S. and Russian aircraft, two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, a B-52H Stratofortress from the 2nd Bomb Wing (both deployed to RAF Fairford, UK) and a KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from the 459th Air Refueling Squadron were intercepted and observed by a Russian SU-27 Flanker on Friday, June 9 over the Baltic Sea.

The U.S. bomber and tanker formation was participating in BALTOPS, an aerial deployment exercise that rehearses and improves cooperation and interoperability between U.S. and international units and as a demonstration of U.S. capabilities in the region to reinforce the U.S. commitment to security.

U.S. Air Force photographer Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder shot these photos (from the boom position of a KC-135 tanker) during the Friday intercept. The U.S. Air Force said officially that, “Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner.”

However the list of intercepts deemed “unsafe” or “unprofessional” from the U.S. DoD is pretty long… (read here or here for a couple of examples.)

A Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepts a formation of U.S. Air Force aircraft, two B-1B Lancers, 28th Bomb Wing, KC-135R Stratotanker, 459th Air Refueling Squadron and B-52H Stratofortress, 2nd Bomb Wing, while participating in BALTOPS over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2017. The exercise is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations’ forces to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

There has been an increase in intercepts between NATO, U.S. and Russian aircraft during the last 24 months in what seems like a slightly less-tense return to the Cold War era when intercepts had a distinctly more ominous message. The U.K. based news writer Lizzie Dearden wrote, “Around 780 deployments were made from European military bases last year in response to Russian aircraft, compared to just 410 in 2015.” This does not a string of intercepts in other regions that include a sensational set of four intercepts in a row by USAF F-22 Raptors of Russian maritime patrol aircraft off the Alaskan coast recently.

A Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepts a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 28th Bomb Wing, while participating in BALTOPS over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2017. The exercise is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations’ forces to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

While popular news media often adds a sensational spin to the intercepts suggesting some version of political brinkmanship a more relevant interpretation is that the air forces involved are conducting the intercepts for training and air traffic safety reasons. Some NATO aircraft including RAF Typhoons have escorted Russian aircraft that flew in moderate proximity to commonly used civilian air routes without common air traffic control transponders. When NATO aircraft rendezvous with the Russian aircraft they use their transponders to mark the location of the Russian aircraft as they transit the airspace.

Regardless of the motives the encounters often make for sensational photos and video.

A Russian Su-27 Flanker peels away from a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 28th Bomb Wing, while participating in BALTOPS over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2017. The exercise is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations’ forces to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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Watch Two B-2 Stealth Bombers Recover Into RAF Fairford (With Radio Comms)

Take a look at this cool clip of two Spirit bombers arriving in the UK.

On Jun. 9, 2017, two B-2s deployed to RAF Fairford, UK.

Interestingly, the two aircraft, 82-1068 Spirit Of New York (using radio callsign “Mytee 21”) and 88-0329 Spirit Of Missouri (“Mytee 22), launched from their homebase at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, visited a bombing range in the UK before recovering into RAF Fairford.

The following video, filmed by our friend Ben Ramsay, shows the two stealth bombers approaching runway 27 at Fairford, where the Spirits joined the three B-52 Stratofortress and three B-1 Lancer bombers already deployed there to take part in exercise BALTOPS.

Although the U.S. Air Force deploys its bombers to RAF Fairford regularly, it’s quite rare to have the three types on the British base at the same time.

Indeed B-2s don’t move from Whiteman AFB, in Missouri, too often: they are able to hit their target with very long round-trip missions from their homebase in CONUS (Continental U.S.), as happened during recent training missions, extended nuclear deterrence sorties in the Korean Peninsula, as well as during real conflicts, such as the Libya Air War in 2011, Allied Force in Serbia in 1999 or the more recent air strike on ISIS in Libya. A capability that is common to both the B-52s and the B-1s that, unlike the stealth bombers, are more frequently deployed abroad.

However, the deployment of the “bomber trio” has already taken place last year at Andersen Air Force Base when the three different platforms simultaneously launched from Guam for their first integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Is the current deployment to the UK a sign that the trio-bomber force is becoming a routine in the way the strategic assets are operated by USAF?

H/T UK Aviation Movies

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A Russian Su-27 Flanker Has Intercepted A U.S. B-52 Strategic Bomber Over The Baltic Sea

An interesting close encounter has just taken place over the Baltic Sea.

A Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet was instructed to intercept a US B-52 Stratofortress over the Baltic Sea earlier today.

The USAF strategic bomber “was flying along the Russian border,” the Russian Defense Ministry reported according to RT.

“Russia’s air defense detected the aircraft on Tuesday morning at around 7:00 GMT, the statement said. The Su-27 of the Russian Baltic Fleet was deployed in response and shadowed the American aircraft after identifying it, as the bomber was flying in neutral airspace over the Baltic Sea along the border, the ministry said.”

Where the interception took place it’s not clear at the time of writing. Most probably, the American Buff was flying in international airspace off Kaliningrad Oblast, where most of these “close encounters” have taken place in the recent years.

Some of these have been particularly dangerous, as the Russian combat planes have aggressively maneuvered close to (or even barrel rolled over) the U.S. spyplanes (mostly RC-135s) they were shadowing. This is the first time, at least in the last few years, that a Russian plane performs a VID (Visual Identification) run on a B-52 bomber.

The Stratofortress involved in the intercept must have been one of the three B-52Hs belonging to the 2nd BW (Bomb Wing) from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana,deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, to support various exercises, including BALTOPS and Saber Strike, throughout northern Europe during the month of June.

 

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Check Out This Cool Video Of Two B-52H Stratofortress Bombers Landing At RAF Fairford For Their European Deployment

B-52H Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base have touched down on the runway at RAF Fairford, UK. The bombers will participate in exercises Saber Strike, Arctic Challenge and Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), in the European theatre.

On Jun. 1, two B-52H Stratofortresses belonging to the 2nd BW (Bomb Wing) from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and 800 Airmen, deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, to support various exercises throughout Europe during the month of June.

Actually, the two aircraft came from different bases: whilst one of the aircraft, callsign “MYTEE 51”, made its way to the UK via Northern Europe, the other one, “MYTEE 96”, arrived from Al Udeid, Qatar, where the aircraft was based to support Operation Inherent Resolve, against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The long-range heavy bombers are a frequent presence in Europe:  B-52s from Barksdale or Minot AFB deploy at least once a year to Fairford or Morón Air Base, Spain, and regularly take part in the yearly Saber Strike and BALTOPS exercises in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.

Although they mainly fly Close Air Support and Air Interdiction missions delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) on Daesh targets in Iraq, when deployed to Europe the Buffs conduct both land and maritime attack missions including naval mine drops during which the aircraft drops 500-pound dummy Mk-62 mines, that is to say Mk-82 500-lb general purpose bomb fitted with a Fin Mk 15, Fin BSU-86/B, or Tail Section Mk 16. Once in the water, the mine uses an MK57 Target Detection Device (TDD) to detect a ship passing above: it can detect the vessel by pressure of the ship on the water, by magnetism of the ship’s metal or vibration caused by the ship.

Generally speaking, the $84 million bombers can carry 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms) of fuel, a payload of 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms), can fly 650 miles per hour at 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters) for more than 8,800 miles. With upgrades they over the years and future upgrades coming online the B-52H is an extremely capable platform and still a very viable asset to mission planners.

With a first flight in 1952 and an out-of-service date of 2040 it’s not inconceivable that we will see 80-year-old B-52s finally retiring to the desert.

In the meanwhile, take a look at yet another stunning video from Ben Ramsay showing the two Buffs touching down at RAF Fairford on Jun. 1, 2017.

U.S. B-52 bombers have dropped 3,419 weapons on Daesh targets since April 2016.

The venerable B-52 strategic bombers have been quite busy fighting ISIL in the last months.

Six B-52 Stratofortress bombers are deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIL in Syria and Iraq since April 2016.

The aircraft have replaced the B-1s, that returned stateside for upgrades and are expected to perform a new tour of duty in the Middle East by the end of 2017.

The Buffs launched their first air strike against ISIS on Apr. 18 (targeting a Daesh weapons storage facility in Qayyarah, Iraq).

Since then, the B-52s have carried out the same kind of missions the B-1s flew in theater before they were relieved by the Buffs: mainly Close Air Support and Air Interdiction delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions): as of Feb. 20, 2017, the strategic bombers have carried out 729 sorties, dropping 3,419 weapons on Daesh targets in Iraq.

Based on the images released by the flying branch so far, the 6o years old aircraft have flown with the underwing pylons loaded with two types of JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions): the 500-lb laser-guided GBU-54s and the 2,000-lb GPS-guided GBU-31V3 “bunker busters” onto the Heavy Stores Adaptor Beam pylons.

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress refuels from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 15, 2017. The 340th EARS extended the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists by delivering fuel to U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and a B-52 Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

One of the most common loadout includes 3x GBU-31s and 8x GBU-54s along with PGMs carried inside the bomb bay of the B-52H Stratofortress. With the 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade the Buffs can carry up to 16 external laser JDAMs (8 per pylon) as well as 8 internal J-series weapons mounted on a conventional rotary launcher.

Such “mixed” PGM configuration provide the aircraft the ability to deliver “kinetic” attacks engaging both stationary and moving ground targets with reduced collateral damage (using the GBU-54s, that combines 500-lb Mk-82 warhead and the precision strike capability delivered by its dual Laser/GPS mode guidance system) as well as concrete shelters and hardened targets by means of the GBU-31s that use the BLU-109 forged steel penetrator warhead.

According to the U.S. Air Force, the B-52 will be constantly upgraded so that it will be able to internally carry eight joint air-to-surface standoff missiles, as well as a variety of miniature air-launched decoys. It will also have the option of carrying up to 12 extended-range JASSM-ERs on the external pylons for a total capacity of 20 of these advanced, stealthy cruise missiles.

Until the venerable B-52 is replaced by the recently announced B-21 Raider, the B-52 is projected to continue operations until at least 2040 thanks to a series of constant upgrades that will facilitate the Stratofortress flying into is 90th year.

The current “H” model is indeed much different from the early B-52 that flew for the first time in 1952. It currently features multi-function digital display screens, computer network servers and real-time communication uplinks with Internet access.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Ben, left, and Capt. Justin, right, 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron pilots, takeoff to execute air operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Feb. 13, 2017. The B-52 Stratofortress enables vital kinetic capability for the U.S. Air Force and is actively engaged in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

 

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