Tag Archives: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

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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U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bomber loses one engine over North Dakota

A USAF Stratofortress bomber lost one of its 8 engines 25 miles to the northeast of Minot AFB, North Dakota. Type to re-engine the Buff?

On Jan. 4, 2017, in a quite unusual incident, a B-52H belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing lost one Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engine shortly after take off from Minot AFB, North Dakota.

According to DefenseNews, that broke the news, the aircraft, one of the 76 “Buffs” still in service with the U.S. Air Force, was flying a training mission with 5 crew members; the engine fell in an unpopulated area without causing damage on the ground and a UH-1N Huey helicopter was dispatched to the site for a survey.

Few details are available at the moment as the U.S. Air Force investigates the root cause of the issue.

For instance, it’s still not clear whether a single engine or an entire nacelle pod (housing two TF-33 engines) attached to one of the four underwing pylons detached from the plane. Anyway, the aircraft managed to return safely to Minot: the loss of one (or even two on the same pod) is not a big deal for an aircraft powered by 8 engines.

Nevertheless, the incident is likely to fuel debate about the B-52’s engine program. With a +60 year-long career, the B-52 is a still quite advanced and heavily weaponized “dinosaur” expected to remain in service until something around 2040, when it will be fully replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider.

Various options are known to have been considered so far, including an upgrade for the current TF-33 engines or their replacement with a different type: the Pratt PW2000 or other potential substitutes pitched by General Electric and Rolls-Royce that are likely to respond an eventual flying branch’s RFP.

Anyway it’s not the first time some part detaches from a U.S. Air Force aircraft mid-air: on Nov. 1, 2016, a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aerial refueler belonging to the 60th Air Mobility Wing was forced to perform an emergency landing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, after losing its flying boom that fell in a hay-field.