Tag Archives: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

B-52 "cart-start" and Minimum Interval Take-Off (MITO)

The rapid launch of 17 B-52 Stratofortresses, that was the highlight of Constant Vigilance exercise held at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, on Jun, 11, 2012 was just the last of a series of event that have the aim to test the U.S. Air Force heavy bomber force’s mission readiness.

As the following interesting video shows, in June 2009, Minot hosted a 15-ship 15 MITO (Minimum Interval Take Off) in support of Exercise Global Thunder.

You can see crew members and crew chiefs rush to the planes and then hear a series of “booms”, with white smoke, before the engines spool up. That’s the effect of “cart-starts”, small starter cartridges, coffee cup sized shotshells used to jumpstart the engines removing the need for ground power or air start.

Rapid launch exercise at Minot AFB: 17 B-52 heavy bombers take off in sequence to test mission readiness

A 17-ship rapid launch from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, was the highlight of Constant Vigilance, an exercise held on June 11, 2012 to test the B-52H Stratofortress force’s mission readiness.

The Cold War-like quick reaction launch included B-52 bombers from both Minot and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana that took the air one by one for a subsequent training mission.

Such exercises are regularly scheduled to check the B-52 Stratofortresses’ ability to respond to threats at a moment’s notice. During this training events, aircraft are launched by a method known “cart-starts” from cartridge starts: a small-controlled explosive is inserted into two of the eight engines of the heavy bomber. The charges jumpstart the engines (the remaining engines are started while the aircraft taxies to the runway) removing the need to use ground equipment normally used for aircraft’s startup.

Using cart-starts, startup time is cut from more than an hour to less than 10 minutes. Not bad for an aircraft with more than 50 years of combat operations under its belt.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Pentagon flexing muscles at Pyongyang: B-52 bombers take part in largest U.S. exercise in Korea for the first time

Although North Korea’s most recent attempts to project an image of strength to the rest of the world have failed, the U.S. military is undoubtedly focusing on the Korean peninsula.

Even if the news that U.S. Special Forces have already parachuted into North Korea to perform surveillance operations on Pyongyang activities, reportedly (accidentally?) disclosed by Army Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley, commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces in South Korea, was (awkwardly) denied by U.S. Forces Korea, an official PACAF press release leaves no room for interpretations.

According to the news release, two B-52 Bombers from Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, took part in exercise Max Thunder 12-1 at Gwangji Air Base, Republic of Korea, on May 17, 2012.

The mighty bombers have already been involved in joint drills in the region, as happened in 2010, when they took part to Keen Sword in Japan. However, this is the first time the B-52s attend the largest Air Combat Command exercise in Korea.

Here’s an excerpt of the most interesting parts of the press release:

“This is the first time B-52’s flew in MT 12-1. It has tradition as a fighter aircraft exercise since 2008.”

“Bringing the B-52 to Max Thunder is really great training for everyone,” said Capt. Seth Spidahl, Anderson Air Base B-52 pilot and liaison at Max Thunder. “A lot of the time we don’t get to integrate with other fighter aircraft.

MT 12-1 is the largest Air Combat Command exercise in Korea conducted twice a year.

[…]

The decision to integrate B-52s into MT 12-1 was decided just hours before their executed mission, Spidahl said.

“Normally we don’t plan from the exercise location but, since we don’t normally play in Max Thunder, it seemed appropriate,” he said.

During the exercise, the B-52s were tasked to bring approximately 40 percent of the weaponry to the fight and were instructed to hit roughly 85 percent of the planned targets for the mission.

“It’s important to display our capabilities and show what we bring to the fight,” he said. “During a time of actual war B-52s would support the fight. So it’s important to exercise those capabilities now.”

[…]

“B-52s brought a different spin to Max Thunder,” said Col. Patrick Matthews, Max Thunder deployed commander.

[…]

The combined joint two-week exercise allowed the U. S. Air Force to work alongside the ROK Air Force through exercise scenarios simulating combined operations against a hostile force.

Therefore, after an “Elephant Walk” with sixty USAF and ROKAF F-16s at Kunsan Air Force Base (and a long-range exercise  involving B-1 bombers and troubled F-22 Raptors featuring the Block 3.1 upgrade to validate new strike tactics), the U.S. have once again decided to rely on the B-52, their most famous, combat proven and effective bomber, to impress Pyongyang. And maybe Beijing too.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Photo: The most famous U.S. nuclear bomber generates (peace sign) rainbow condensation cloud

The following photo shows a B-52H Stratofortress from the 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., generating a rainbow-colored condensation cloud on take off on a training flight, on Apr 18.

I found it a bit funny that the most famous nuclear bomber in the U.S. Air Force inventory created one of the most easily recognizable peace sign.

However, it must be said that its mission has changed in half a century: from a nuclear role of strategic deterrence, the B-52 is currently used for a wide variety of conventional missions ranging from the BAI (Battlefield Area Interdiction) to CAS (Close Air Support), to TASMO (Tactical Air Support to Maritime Operations) using GPS and Laser-guided bombs, cruise missiles and aerial mines.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

The long-range, heavy bomber, designed during the Cold War, will keep flying through 2040 although the Air Force’s youngest B-52, Tail No. 1040, the last of 744 Stratofortress planes to be manufactured and delivered to the USAF in 1962, will hit an important milestone this year, when it turns 50 years old.