Skip to comments.Not your grandfather’s B-52
Posted on 05/16/2012 4:26:22 AM PDT by TSgt
The Air Force wants its B-52s to keep flying until 2040, but the airplanes of that era wont look like the ones we all remember from Dr. Strangelove or even the bombers flying today.
According to an official story from the weekend, Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski, the head of Global Strike Command, says the B-52 is set to receive a round of upgrades that will help both the airmen inside each one and also the top-level commanders moving them around on their maps. Even if that commanders suit is a darker shade of blue:
These upgrades are integral to ensuring the B-52H is both effective and able to fully integrate with other services, as envisioned in the Air Sea Battle concept, according to command officials.
Among the upgrades is a guided smart weapon capability in the B-52Hs internal weapons bay, which provides a 66 percent increase in guided weapons payload. Another current program is an upgrade to the latest Advanced Targeting Pod, which will increase the B-52H effectiveness when performing close air support and other missions.
One of the test aircraft at Edwards AFB also featured an improved on-board communications upgrade called Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT). The CONECT program brings the B-52H from the analog into the digital age, according to command officials, providing an invaluable data link over which to pass mission and threat data.
With the new defense strategy placing a greater emphasis on the Pacific, its really important that our bombers are fully networked and integrated with the joint force, Kowalski said.
The mind races at the possibilities a carrier strike group commander with B-52s integrated into her air plan? Sensor netting, as weve heard so much about, that lets a commander in Australia see what a bomber is tracking over the North Pacific? You can start to hear Navy Undersecretary Robert Works voice explaining how, of all things, the Air Force could help increase the effective size of the Navys fleet, along with his beloved P-8s, BAMS, E-2Ds and so on.
Part of the problem with imagining the future for this kind of integration, however, is a lack of clarity about exactly what scenarios U.S. planners are using to build it. This is where D.C.-based China fear-mongering gets a little frustrating, because it usually ends with people frowning severely, or arching their eyebrows, rather than spelling out what they believe would be involved with a potential future crisis.
Are American forces going to fight another Battle of Coral Sea with Chinese naval forces? Are they going to encounter a wall of anti-access/area denial missile and submarine attacks if they cross a keep-out line of death? Are they going to have to eject Chinese invaders from Taiwan? All three? Are American forces going to attack the Chinese mainland?
All that planning is on the high side, so it can be tough trying to put Kowalskis comments into a larger context. But whatever Pentagon planners have in their red-edged briefing documents, this story makes it clear theyll be counting on the 60 year-old B-52s to play a key part in it.
just wrong....a Brokeback kind of Strangelove.
“The Old Dog”
Ever seen a BUFF take off up close? Its magnificent. Closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had.
In 1971 I thought the D model in the Lowry training hanger was cool, even as the G & H models were being fielded.
But extending its life to 2040 is a bit beyond ridiculous.
Exactly. A population is better disposed toward occupying troops when they're shell-shocked and bludgeoned into submission with dumb bombs. The sense of defeat is inescapable (e.g., Germany, Japan).
Populations defeated with PGMs are irate because they lack electricity and possibly running water. The only indication of a war was occasional distant booms and palls of smoke, and so they lack the shell-shocked sense of despair and defeat that comes with city-busting carpet bombing (e.g., Iraq).
It sounds pretty awesome as well.
I grew up in upstate western NY. There is a large AFB somewhere near Buffalo that has a lot of these.
One afternoon, in 71 or 72, about twenty B-52’s flew over westbound towards Buffalo.
In a word that gets used too much these days, well, it was AWESOME!!
A friend of mine related his experience in the USMC near the Cambodian border when a B-52 dumped its load five miles from his position. It was a little more than a religious experience...
I ask on top of the life extension are these as equal or more ridiculous...
* No national will to build a new bomber from scratch.
* DOD paperwork, lack of risk taking and over-analizing would lead to cost over-runs, over-engineering and the eventual death of the program
* Congress and the Senate Micro-mananging it.
* All tooling for the B-1 is gone, so we can't do a quick and dirty on that...
* All the Dang Treaties with the Russians are a flippin nightmare, and have us boxed in...
Massive upgrades ( F119 engines for starters ) for the B-1 and let the Israeli's do it, farm it out since no one has the cohones to do anything here anymore and then take re-delivery of them, that is the only thing I can think of for now to get around all the BS noted above...
Dumb bombs ala WWII are extremely wasteful in many ways. For example, all the WWII tonnage dropped on Germany actually had very little effect on overall war production. (Especially those dropped by the Brits at night, or the blitz the NAZIs inflicted on Britain) You are correct in describing the terror they inspired then, and the psychological effect of the B52 in VietNam.
I used to live in a neighborhood at the end of the runway at what was Larson AFB in Washington state. In the early 60’s the B-52’s were silver with white bottoms. They were an awesome thing to see landing and taking off. And yeah, they were loud. Then, in the mid-60’s most of them were green camo on top and black on the bottom.
My dad serviced the analog computers for the tail guns.
Man, those were interesting times.
What is it that’s “wrong” with the B-52 that it’s service life couldn’t be extended indefinitely?
If the airframes are old, couldn’t they be reproduced? I mean, this is 50 year old tech put together with 50 year old processes. Surely these components could be made today just as easily as they were in the last century.
Or is it the design that’s inadequate somehow? Why can’t it be tweaked rather than replaced with a $multi-billion new model that would be unproven and likely over budget?
It’s already been refitted with revised engines (multiple times, IIRC), so presumably that could continue to happen as engine tech evolves.
It just seems to me we have a proven, working platform that has managed to adapt nicely over the years. Aircrews and pilots are familiar with it, training program is established, spare parts are in inventory. I like new planes as much as the next person, but it seems the B-52 has proven itself as effective at what she does.
Or maybe we no longer need a bomber that does what the B-52 can do?
There’s nothing wrong with it as long as they are safe.
The airframes are very old...
Yep - hell of an aircraft. To look at it, one has to wonder what has made it so durable as to last this long. Under a full load, the wing tips flex over 20’ from resting on the wheel struts to airborne. Freakin’ amazing.
“.........a round of upgrades that will help both the airmen inside each one and also the top-level commanders moving them around on their maps. Even if that commanders suit is a darker shade of blue:.......”
What’s this “darker shade of blue” crap? U.N.?
Planning today should be excluding the U.N., NOT including the potential of. Think Positive.