Like the battleship, the B52 represents the apex of evolution of a system. It would take a saltatory leap to render it obsolete. The B1 and B2 are out there, but when we needed a craft to loiter around the Afghan plain, only one airplane filled the bill.
There’s something else about the Buff, as evidenced from EGPWS’ pic above:
The B-52 isn’t subtle. There’s no stealth. There’s no “environmental impact assessment.” From the moment the throttles go forward, the outward message of a B-52 rolling off the runway is:
“We are coming to kill you. We don’t care who knows. We’re not going to be crafty, stealthy, quiet or nuanced. When the bomb bay doors open, you will see a seemingly limitless succession of bombs drop out of this beast upon your head. Enjoy your last moments.”
Look back at what happened when Nixon finally bombed North Vietnam with B-52’s instead of attack or fighter aircraft. The Commies came back to the table right damn quick...
If we practiced a foreign policy of “speak softly and carry a big stick,” the B-52 is the biggest, ugliest piece of wood one could carry around.