Tag Archives: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

The U.S. Air Force Wants To Use The B-52 Strategic Bomber For Leaflet Drops During PSYOPS Missions

Testers from the 419th Flight Test Squadron are looking to see if B-52 Stratofortress bombers can undertake psychological operations dropping leaflets with messages.

Along with nuclear bombs and several other weapons, the U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers may one day be used to drop leaflets.

Indeed, the Air Force has recently completed two successful sorties, where testers from the 419th Flight Test Squadron, from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range and eight more over the Precision Impact Range Area on Edwards.

“We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam,” said Kevin Thorn, 419th FLTS B-52 air vehicle manager in a USAF public release. “We are ensuring that the bombs do not contact the aircraft, and/or each other, creating an unsafe condition. Additionally we are tracking the reliability of the bomb functioning.”

Leaflets with messages used to communicate with the locals or with the enemy troops (persuading them to surrender) have been part of the PSYOPS for decades. Such leaflets can be distributed in several different ways, including drops from a vast variety of aircraft, in order to reach a wide area.

For instance, in 2015, U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles dropped leaflets over Islamic State insurgents in Syria using PDU-5B leaflet canisters; in 2012, air drop of leaflets in support of Information Operations were conducted by the U.S. Army above Helmand province, Afghanistan, using U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in areas of the Helmand province unreachable by conventional communication. During the Air War in Libya, in 2011, U.S. Air Force EC-130s broadcast radio messages to the Libyan military to persuade them to return to their families before it was too late, whereas Italian C-130J aircraft dropped leaflets over Tripoli to counter Gaddafi’s regime propaganda in Libya’s capital city.

Leaflets have been also air dropped by Syrian Arab Air Force Mil Mi-8 helicopters over Aleppo in August 2012 to urge rebels to surrender to the Syrian Army and even Israeli A-4 dropped leaflets over the northern Gaza Strip in November 2012, to call for civilians to stay away from terrorist target areas and emphasize that Hamas was responsible for the situation in the Strip.

Today, testers from the 419th Flight Test Squadron are looking to see if the world’s most iconic strategic bomber can accomplish this task.

The B-52 used a PDU-5/B, a new-use or variant of an older Cluster Bomb Uni designated MK 20 Rockeye II, SUU-76B/B, and/or CBU-99/100 depending on the type of filler used in the bomb.

The PDU-5/B (the same used by the F-15E mentioned above), can deliver about 60,000 leaflets; it was first deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom before any Air Force munitions began hitting targets in Baghdad, Iraq.

“Without the capability to carry PDU-5s on the B-52 aircraft, the impending shortfall on leaflet dispersal capability will jeopardize Air Force Central Command information operations,” said Earl Johnson, B-52 PDU-5/B project manager. The “Buff” can carry 16 PDU-5s under the wings, making it able to distribute 900,000 leaflets in a single sortie.

The testing the PDU-5/B on the B-52 is complete for now even though the program is forecasted to return at a future date to test PDU-5/B releases from the B-52’s internal weapons bay.

A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron with eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs underneath the left wing. The PDU-5/B is a repurposed Cluster Bomb Unit used to release leaflets (paper cut into a specific size). Leaflets are generally dropped during U.S. military psychological operations overseas. When released from the aircraft, a fuse is set to a certain time to tell the bomb to detonate and release the leaflets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

 

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.