Tag Archives: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

Up close and personal with the B-52 bombers deployed to the UK for drills in Europe

We had the privilege of being invited to RAF Fairford on the 11th June 2016 to meet squadron personnel from the United States Air Force 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB.

Over the period of Jun. 2 and 3, 2016, three B-52H Stratofortress bombers arrived direct from their home base of Minot, North Dakota.

The three aircraft deployed are 23rd Bomb Squadron “The Barons” aircraft:

60-0007/MT B-52H Stratofortress

60-0037/MT B-52H Stratofortress

60-0044/MT B-52H Stratofortress

A total of 250 U.S Air Force personnel have been deployed to RAF Fairford in support of these aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Col. Kieran Denehan, 5th Expeditionary Operations Group commander explained the reason for the deployment “We are here primarily to support two exercises the first one is BALTOPS2016 and the second one is Saber Strike.”

“BALTOPS” is primarily a Maritime exercise around the Baltic Sea involving 17 NATO and non-NATO partner countries with the B-52’s role being Maritime interdiction & Mining operations.

“Saber Strike” is a land exercise over multiple locations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania involving in excess of 10,000 NATO personnel. The B-52 will be working with foreign JTACS (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) and Army units.

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Major Devita, 5th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron commander, informed us that this years exercise there was more involvement with the CAOC (Combined Air Operations Centre) in Uedem, Germany to seamlessly integrate both the Air and Maritime assets.

Both exercises ran concurrently and due to the B-52s many different roles it was possible for the strategic bomber to take part in both exercises within the same mission although they would usually only fly one at a time due to the complex planning of each missions individually.

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Major Devita did state that on a couple of occasions over the course of the deployment both would be flown in a single mission increasing the duration of the sortie past the 10 hour mark.

The mission that we witnessed launching from RAF Fairford during the visit involved two B-52s involved in a mine laying in the Baltic Sea. The B-52s would be working directly with German Eurofighters, Polish and American F-16s as well as Swedish JAS39 Grippens. Other air assets where also to be involved however not working directly with the B-52s. The sea borne maritime forces would then recover the dropped inert mines as part of an anti-mine operation simulating an enemy having laid mines in friendly waters.

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Lt Col Maginness, 23rd Bomb Squadron Commander, gave an overview of the B-52s capabilities in today’s world: “if it is an Air to Ground munition the B-52 can carry it”. These munitions include laser guided, GPS guided and freefall bombs (dumb bombs), mines and the cruise missile.

The Sniper targeting pod is able to perform NTISR (non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) missions. This imagery can be collected, examined and translated into target coordinates for the B-52 or passed on to other players in the area. It can also be collected for other agencies for further analysis and future mission planning. The B-52 has an extensive & robust ECM suite (electronics counter measures), which allows the crew to examine the electronic threat and again analyse an appropriate response.

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Future upgrades, including a fully digital communications suite called Connect and the ability to carry SMART weapons internally the laser & GPS guided munitions that are currently carried on the external wing mounted points have both been funded and upgrades taking place on the fleet.

With upgrades over the years and future upgrades coming online the B-52H is an extremely capable platform and with the huge range of the aircraft (unrefueled air 2 air) it is 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. Another amazing fact about its longevity is that the United States of America has only existed since 1776 so by final retirement the B-52 will have existed for almost 1/3rd of the total time that the United States of America has.

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Once again Macks Aviation Photography would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to Sahara Fales, SrA, USAF of the 5th Expeditionary Operations Group Public Affairs office in providing the opportunity to take part in this event, special thanks go to Col. Kieran Denehan, 5th Expeditionary Operations Group commander who is justifiably proud of the men & women under his command on this deployment, all of whom made this article possible.

Salva

USAF B-52s perform show of force in Jordan during 35-hour nonstop mission from the U.S.

Eager Lion 2016 opened by two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

On May 24, two B-52 Stratofortress bombers from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted a 35-hour, 14,000-mile round-trip mission to Jordan, to perform a show of force alongside the partner Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) in Exercise Eager Lion 2016.

Eager Lion 2016

As happened last year, during the nonstop mission (that included four aerial refueling operations) the B-52s conducted air intercept training with Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s and executed a live conventional weapons demonstration directed jointly by JAF and U.S. JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

“Executing these global bomber training missions supports successful integration into geographic combatant command and multinational operations, such as the current B-52 deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander in a release. Indeed, the B-52s are currently deployed to the CENTCOM area or responsibility taking part in the air war against Daesh from Al Udeid airbase, in Qatar.

Eager Lion 2016

USSTRATCOM’s bomber force regularly conducts theater security operations with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to launch and manage global strike missions anywhere.

The Buff’s participation in Eager Lion 2016 follows the deployment of B-52s to Morón Air Base, Spain, in February and March, to take part in Norwegian Exercise Cold Response and French Exercise Serpentex, as well as the deployment of B-2 Spirits to the Indo-Asia-Pacific in March.

Eager Lion 2016

Additionally, in April a B-52 flew a sortie to France to integrate with the French Air Force, and a B-52 also flew to South America to train with the Colombian air force.

Exercise “Eager Lion” is a recurring multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability.

Eager Lion 16 marks the second consecutive year of the integration of +50 years old heavy bomber into the exercise.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Watch a U.S. B-52 blow up Daesh Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices and their storage facitilities in Iraq

Buff at work in Iraq.

Six B-52s are currently deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar, to support Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

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

The Stratofortress bombers have 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), including JDAMs.

The following video was filmed on April 29 where the B-52s attacked multiple vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and their storage facilities near Kirkuk, Iraq, to deny safe havens and disrupt terrorist operations.

A B-52 has crashed after take off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam

Buff down in Guam.

At 08.30AM LT on May 19, a B-52H Stratofortress bomber belonging to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, crashed on the flightline at Andersen AFB, in Guam.

All the 7 crew members egressed the plane safely.

The B-52 was deployed to Andersen from Minot AFB, North Dakota, as part of the Washington’s continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific.

For the records, this is not the first time a B-52 (or a heavy bomber) crashes at the American bomber base in the Pacific.

On Jul. 21, 2008, a U.S Stratofortress belonging to the 20th Bomb Squadron from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, callsign “Raidr 21” crashed while taking part in the flyover for the U.S. liberation of the island from Japanese occupation in 1944. The aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean approximately 30 nautical miles (56 km) northwest of Apra Harbor, Guam, 5 minutes before the scheduled flyover time, killing the 6 crew members.

The cause of the crash was a wrong horizontal stabilizer trim setting.

The aircraft was on a four-month tour to the Pacific to replace the B-2 Spirit bombers which had been grounded following the loss of one of them on the same base in February 2008.

In fact, on Feb. 23, 2008, a B-2 with the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri, crashed on the runway shortly after takeoff marking the first ever crash of a Spirit stealth bomber. The two pilots ejected safely from the aircraft even though one of them suffered a spinal compression fracture.

The crash was caused by moisture in the sensors that created bad readings to the flight control computer that consequently forced the aircraft to pitch up on takeoff.

Actually, between the two above mentioned incidents, on Mar. 8, 2008, there was another minor incident, involving a B-1 bomber that collided with two fire trucks after an emergency landing at Andersen AFB caused by a hydraulic leak experienced shortly after departure to Ellsworth AFB.

In February 2010, fire broke out in one of the engines of a B-2 stealth bomber preparing for take-off. The aircraft sustained substantial structural damage: 18 months of local repairs were required to make the B-2 able to take off again to fly to Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale, California. The aircraft eventually returned to operative status 4 years after the incident.

Image credit: Kuan News

Incredible video shows B-52 bomber performing strong crosswind landing

This is cool.

Depending on the type of aircraft, pilots may be required to apply a Wind Correction Angle (WCA) and “crab” the plane aligning nose and tail with the wind direction to counter the drifting effect of side winds during strong crosswind landings.

Whilst most of the planes “de-crab” once the main landing gear touches the ground (or shortly before), the U.S. Air Force iconic B-52 bomber was designed in such a way the landing gear can be set up to 20 degrees left to right of centerline for both takeoff and landing.

In this way, the Stratofortress can stay sideways even after touchdown.

This unique capability is shown in the following video, filmed by Fred Seggie at RAF Leuchars back in 2006 (some of you may have already seen it; still it is probably interesting for those who have never seen it).