That feat of longevity reflects both regular maintenance and timely upgrades
There are other factors as well ... the "H" BUFF, or "Cadillac" was the penultimate penetration version of the type. It was optimized for low-level operations from the start, with a stronger wing and fuselage structure than it's older sisters.
Additionally, it entered service after the bomber-leg of the triad had switched from airborne alert (many planes in the air, loaded with nukes, at all times) to ground-based alert - so most of the "H" fleet spent the first 2/3rds of their careers mostly on the ground being pampered, rather than racking up flight hours. Besides missing airborne alert (which saw the wings flown off the earlier marks up to the "G", as well as the B-47 fleet) the "H" also didn't see service in Vietnam or Desert Storm (aside: whenever Libs used to gloat that the B-1B didn't see service in Desert Storm, the quick/easy response was that it was sitting nuke alert just like all the "H" model BUFFs -- it was the "G" that went to war).
So when the "H"s switched to the conventional mission with the retirement of the "G"s in the 1990s, there was this near-perfect convergence of chronologically "old" but very low-flight-time, exceptionally strong airframes that were generally flying missions (combat or training) at a much higher altitude (since the low-level penetration mission is long-gone) then they were designed for - which further served to limit airframe fatigue.
The same thing is true of both the B-1B and the B-2A fleet btw. Those aircraft were optimized for low-level performance as well and their current operational usage means that we'll get a heck of a lot more flight hours out of them than originally projected.
It was optimized for low-level operations from the start, with a stronger wing and fuselage structure than it's older sisters.
Whoof! Take your breath away. There is a high hill north of NAS/JRB (KNFW) and one airshow, a BUFF rolled through about 100 ft above the hill (and my head) at about .6 mach. Airspace was closed so the speed limit was moot.
I opened my mouth and screamed to try to equalize pressures. I also went home and changed pants. Some frequencies cause involuntary defecation.
Having a B-52 that you never heard show up over your left shoulder moving at 300+ ground speed at 100 ft. doesn't help.
I cleared the hill, and the only bomb dropped was in my shorts.
Tanks for the 'splaination.
Makes plenty of sense. They shoulda bought more wings.
posted on 04/15/2012 7:17:30 PM PDT
whenever Libs used to gloat that the B-1B didn't see service in Desert Storm, the quick/easy response was that it was sitting nuke alert
The accurate response is some of the B-1Bs were on nuke alert. However, the majority of the fleet was grounded on 20 December 1990 due to disc problems in the F101 and malfunctions of the DAS. Incorporation of and qualification for dropping conventional ordnance had not yet occurred either.
posted on 04/15/2012 7:44:48 PM PDT
by A.A. Cunningham
(Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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