The B-52 is an intercontinental jet bomber, with a large and flexible swept wing, a fuselage incorporating enormous bomb bays, and eight engines in pairs of two. Later the B-52 was modified to carry stand-off missiles, including the large 'Hound Dog', on pylons under the wing. The 'Big Belly' modification enabled it to carry huge loads of conventional bombs. The B-52 saw combat dropping conventional bombs in Vietnam and lately in the Gulf. Increasingly vulnerable in a modern combat environment, the B-52 still offers unique bomb-carrying capacity; several plans to replace it were found to be too costly. It entered service in 1955 and will probably stay until at least 2020! The B-52 also played a role with NASA as launch aircraft, carrying into air the X-15 and others. The B-52 also was employed for recce tasks as the RB-52.
Function: strategic bomber
Engines: 8 * 75.6 kN P&W TF-33-P-3
Wing Span: 56.39 m
Length: 49.05 m
Height: 12.40 m
Wing Area: 371.60 m2
Max.Weight: +221353 kg
Speed: 957 km/h
Ceiling: 16765 m
Range: 16093 km
Armament: up to 58 500-lb or 42 750-lb bombs in weapons bay and 12 750-lb bombs at each of the two underwing pylons. Or conventional or nuclear free-falling stores internally and two AGM-28A or -28B Hound Dog missiles (B-52 G & H). Four ½ inch guns in MD-9 tail turret, or one 20-mm ASG-21 rotary canon (B-52H)
All B-52s are equipped with an electro-optical viewing system that uses platinum silicide forward-looking infrared and high resolution low-light-level television sensors to augment the targeting, battle assessment, flight safety and terrain-avoidance system, thus further improving its combat ability and low-level flight capability.
Pilots wear night vision goggles (NVGs) to enhance their night visual, low-level terrain-following operations. Night vision goggles provide greater safety during night operations by increasing the pilot's ability to visually clear terrain and avoid enemy radar.
Starting in 1989, an on-going modification incorporates the global positioning system, heavy stores adaptor beams for carrying 2,000 pound munitions and additional smart weapons capability. All aircraft are being modified to carry the AGM-142 Raptor missile and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.
The use of aerial refuelling gives the B-52 a range limited only by crew endurance. It has an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles (14,080 kilometers).
The aircraft's flexibility was evident during the Vietnam War and, again, in Operation Desert Storm. B-52s struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq's Republican Guard. The Gulf War involved the longest strike mission in the history of aerial warfare when B-52s took off from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., launched conventional air launched cruise missiles and returned to Barksdale -- a 35-hour, non-stop combat mission.
The B-52A first flew in 1954, and the B model entered service in 1955. A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962. Only the H model is still in the Air Force inventory and all are assigned to Air Combat Command.
The first of 102 B-52H's was delivered to Strategic Air Command in May 1961. The H model can carry up to 20 air launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile which was launched from B-52G models during Desert Storm.
The B-52's electronic countermeasures suite is capable of protecting itself against a full range of air defence threat systems by using a combination of electronic detection, jamming and infrared countermeasures. The B-52 can also detect and counter missiles engaging the aircraft from the rear. These systems are undergoing continuous improvement in order to enable them to continue to counter emerging threat systems.
|Primary Function:||Heavy bomber|
|Contractor:||Boeing Military Airplane Co.|
|Unit Cost:||$30 million|
|Power Plant:||Eight Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofans|
|Thrust:||Each engine up to 17,000 pounds|
|Length:||159 feet, 4 inches (48.5 meters)|
|Height:||40 feet, 8 inches (12.4 meters)|
|Wingspan:||185 feet (56.4 meters)|
|Speed:||650 miles per hour (Mach 0.86)|
|Ceiling:||50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters)|
|Weight:||Approximately 185,000 pounds empty (83,250 kilograms)|
|Maximum Takeoff Weight:||488,000 pounds (219,600 kilograms)|
|Range:||Unrefueled 8,800 miles (7,652 nautical miles)|
|Armament:||Approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms) mixed ordnance -- bombs, mines and missiles. (Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles, Harpoon anti-ship and Have Nap missiles.)|
|Crew:||Five (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)|
|Accommodations:||Six ejection seats|
|Date Deployed:||February 1955|
|Inventory:||Active force, 85; ANG, 0; Reserve, 9|