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Lawmakers approve B-52 upgrade/Fight over retirement

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posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 04:26 AM
US Lawmakers recently approved a modernization program to the B-52 fleet, and are upset over a plan to retire almost half of the bombers. The modernization will add a larger conventional weapons capability, along with other upgrades. The concern over the retirement comes from the fact that the bombers are currently in heavy use in the Middle East, and losing up to 38 of them could hamstring long range heavy bombing in the future.

The chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee this week expressed dismay over the Air Force's proposed plan to retire nearly half of its venerable B-52 bomber fleet, saying such action could leave the service hamstrung to carry out long-range strike missions.

Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ike Skelton (D-MO) also chided Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and service Secretary Michael Wynne for the service’s progress on a new long-range strike platform, which likely will not be ready for at least another decade.

“The problem with deep strike is we’ve got darn few of any systems,” Hunter said during a March 1 committee hearing.

Modernizing the B-52 bomber fleet with additional conventional weapons and systems while cutting the total number of aircraft is the right plan and will foreshadow changes to nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to Air Force Maj. Gen. Roger Burg.

Burg, director of strategic security in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air, Space and Information Operations, Plans and Requirements, told a National Defense University forum on Capitol Hill that the United States needs more conventional strike capabilities that are precise, scalable and quick to respond. Those conventional weapons will work both offensively and defensively.

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 04:38 AM
Good news... I once read about 25 years... You don't have any numbers...

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 04:40 AM
The last plan that I heard said 2048. I think 2025-2030 at the latest though. They're coming up on flight limits for portions of the airframe.

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 04:44 AM
The text I read said 2025... ir ead it 2000 and 25 years after that is 2025...

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 04:47 AM
The new long range bomber is supposed to be selected by 2018, so I think we'll see the newest B-52s retired by 2020 at the latest. We'll definately see some retired in the next few years, but I don't think we'll see them in the numbers the USAF was talking about.

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 05:41 AM
a good upgrade for the B-52 would be increasing stealth capabilities. and maybe they could add the abilllity to jam radar and comunications equipment over a reasonable sized distance.


posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 05:43 AM
The B-52SOJ was already killed.

There's really no way to make a B-52 stealthier without completely rebuilding each airplane, in which case you get such a huge cost, they'd HAVE to retire them.

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 06:43 AM
I agree with zap on this... You can't make them stealthy... And after all 2018 isn't that faar away...

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 11:44 AM
Hey ZAP I just read this and the other thread about the F-117 and the U-2 and I think someone's feeling a little happy, eh?
If they could do something about the tankers then we’d be set.

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 11:46 AM

Originally posted by justin_barton3
a good upgrade for the B-52 would be increasing stealth capabilities. and maybe they could add the abilllity to jam radar and comunications equipment over a reasonable sized distance.


W T F are you talking about
abilllity to jam radar and comunications equipment over a reasonable sized distance

They already have that

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 11:57 AM
True, they've had this ability for a long time. What do you think kept all those B-52’s during Vietnam from being shot down left and right? Short of a dedicated EW aircraft the B-52 is your best bet when it comes to jamming capability.

[edit on 15-4-2006 by WestPoint23]

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 12:02 PM

In April 2005, the USAF awarded Boeing a contract for the System Design and Development (SDD) of the B-52 Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) program, which will give the aircraft Network-Centric Operations (NCO) capability. CONECT will include new computer architecture and colour displays, Link 17 tactical datalink and an advanced wideband terminal, which will allow the dynamic retasking of missions and weapons during flight and provide increased situational awareness. The SDD phase will complete in 2009

With new engines for th B 52's including the KC 135's would also help keep
them up and flying and further with turbofans.

posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 12:41 PM

Some things come to mind...

1. Racks'n'Rails.
The B-52 is probably the easiest of the platforms to upgrade because of it's mix of clipload and external carriage. Indeed, I would, in designing new options, make integrated rack/rail combinations that exploited the HSAB ability to load complete -modules- (similar to the F-22/35 external 'stealth pods') of preset loads. This would go a long way towards making fewer jets cycle faster. As a con, you have the reality that NONE of the other platforms are external carriage airframes so that the question is really one of how much you can transfer the technology straight across vs. whether you want to . I have seen pictures of the B-2 loaded with single BRU-61 quads of GBU-39 on individual rotary stations and even assuming they don't clash and you can get a full 16 units onboard, that's only 64 bombs. A very inefficient means of exploiting the Batarangs payload capability (26,240lbs out of an 80,000lb max?) when you could be going with a modified CBM.

2. Standoff vs. Stealth vs. Supervalue Singleshot.
There has to be some kind of moderation of approaches here because what we are setting ourselves up with is the reality of having too few stealth to go in with direct penetration (and next to no EA/DEAD to back them). And too few CM shooters to hit targets by alternative means. Vs. a CICBM which may well run, what, a 100 million per shot? Again, this DOES NOT make sense. Because unless the missile is redesigned to salvo multiple weapons (again) it just won't have the DMPI equivalency of an IAM carrier. And can these missiles even BE reequipped, under treaty, with MIRV'ing tech?

3. Where Are We At.
On the various weapons mods? I heard the AGM-86C conversions stopped for cost and the USN took over completely with the Tomahawk. Can we restart? Can we rebreed a MRASM type mini-Tom? What are the comparible costs and clearance times for each weapon from each shooter? Again 'last I heard' the AGM-158 had to meet a couple of very strict standoff prohibtions in the CFE and Cruise Proliferation Treaties which kep it more or less a 180-220nm weapon. This is NOT GOOD ENOUGH for a bomber that faces a modern SAM and certainly not one looking a Flanker down the barrel.
If we go to the AGM-158B as a 600-700 mile weapon, how many will each bomber class be able to handle? It's a fat missile and if it's anything like the AGM-129, a full rotary may not be an option. This too then raises the question of external adaptation (and all the acoustics and missile fatigue factors that brings) ONLY on the Buff.

4. Tanking & Reliability.
The Bone was taking 2 and 3 sucks to drag it's sorry butt from Blightey to Serbia back in 1998. The B-52 was doing it in 1 or even none. Even with aged engines, the internal fuel load and superior cruise profile/wingloading just makes a HUGE difference. If we keep ANY combination of these airframes, what is our lookout on the tanker fleet replacement? Do we gain an economy of scale or are we looking at a fixed buy ceiling no matter what? 'Last I heard' we were looking at a two front war with a bomber hold response going one direction and tacair 'win' the other. That puts a BIG hit on both the staging and initial response options.
Similarly, while the BUFF may be decrepit in terms of the hours they have to put in every year in deep-M to keep it running. The B-1 has never been anything but a redball express either and I don't know but that they ever really 'fixed' that except in one mandated exercise when they artificially pumped up Texas I think it was by raiding the parts locker and support teams of Kansas and Snowville.
I doubt if the B-2 is much better, AHFM or no.

5. What about New Ideas?
Can we put a hypervelocity weapon on a C-xx or Civil aircraft conversion and just standoff a 1,000nm in-racetrack? Can we split the difference on a
UCAV force and simply fly over their heads with so many of them that you get an equivalent munition count and a MORE DIVERSE (including riskier) target set simultaneous engagement?
Knowing how much gas these monsters take and having a pretty good guess on how many MMH:FH, the questoin for me becomes WHY are we bombing stone-agers back to stick-and-bone level with such massively expensive, limited, platforms?
If there is no air defense and the ranges are largely 'tactical' (sub 1,500nm anyway) it doesn't make much sense to fly Aluminum Overcast from 2,000-2,500nm out of Diego or Doha.

You cannot judge an ability without a notional threat. While I have my own doubts about over committing to a war that costs us future 'conventional' (high intensity) capabilities; I have to wonder if the combination of DEWS awareness /in other countries/.

Along with likely considered attack-prep political and strategic threat levels (Korea, Taiwan, Iran) don't indicate an actual low point in our needful response curves for which a hard drawdown might open funding paths for future program starts, sooner.

The question then again becomes HOW SOON on a SOA vs. Developmental technology level we need to have exploitable options. For anyone that remembers the old '747 with 6-10 ALCM rotary launchers' proposals, it seems to me that a switch to a 777 or 787 level tanking capability might include a 'few extra airframe options' (10X2) for a rapid cruise slinger conversion might be just the thing.

IF you also pay for the Falcon or similar on a 2010 vs. 2020 flow in basis.

No threats in 2009? Fine. We make them tankers. No threats in 2015? Fine, we wait for whatever eventuates out of B-3/LRSA. 2020? Well I figure we're all one big happy family or dead but maybe a TAV of somesort.


P.S. While the CICBM option may be necessary for overpenetration factors on truly deep targets, the notion of their needing small nukes 'anyway', combined with the requirement to telegraph our shots so as to keep matters from being misunderstood, when added to the cost factor, makes me a bit leery of treating them as dual-hatted weapons. Especially without a publically acknowledged NMD capability dense enough to defeat a salvo-launch of similar weapons from whereever.

We're not talking 1-2 from NK here. We're talking possible coalitions using clusters of rod-from-god type systems (similar to the Minuteman with BKEP cluster) to flatten highrise buildings or saturate the superbowl.

If they are conventional, I don't see how we can use nuclear counterfire. But if they are enough to beat down an SM-3/ABL-1/THEL token midcourse and terminal option, I don't see that our being able to flatten their hovels in return does U.S. much good on a WTC for mudhut type equivalent trade.

i.e. Mo Money for defense may mean literally that right now. Before we start contemplating Pizza Hut Delivery style ballistic warfare micro-campaigns.

[edit on 15-4-2006 by ch1466]

posted on Apr, 17 2006 @ 01:48 PM
The B-52 still has some remarkably strong points to it's credit, and I'm glad to heare they'll be keeping them around just a wee bit longer.

As for other options, one I heard a while back was of doubling the size of the B-2 fleet. (It's cheaper than it sounds) The $2 Billion a plane cost includes the roughly $400 Billion developement cost. 2 more planes would run much less, though I cannot remember the quoted figure. Twice as many aircraft means you cut the pressure for turn-around time down, though probrably not by the half you'd expect. The B-2 may not have the loiter time of a B-52, but it does have the ability to get much closer to a target area, to do so on opening night before the enemy knows we've decided to comence hostilities, and even to keep them guessing just where those hostilities will comence.

One thing that's only partially related I remember hearing about 10 years ago was that the Navy planned on getting rid of it's Tomcats. And if you think 10 years planning is a long ways to look ahead at aircraft retirement, think about the fact they're already trying to figure out what we should do or have done when it comes time to decommision the USS Ronald Reagan.

posted on Apr, 17 2006 @ 02:04 PM
I'm old. When I think of American might I think "buf" and air strike and not always in a "bad" way. Yeah, the Buf is old like me and like me headed for retirement, but what platform has been so long-lived and flexible? Yeah, the old girl's time has come and gone. No nukes dropped in anger on her watch either... thanx darlin'. Every now and again I drag out "Strangelove" just to watch the "buf" stuff and Slim Pickins. If they retire her OK. But I'd like to see a few kept operational for reasons other than that which might be pragmatic.

posted on Apr, 18 2006 @ 08:38 PM
True, there is a certain diplomatic leverage when all the B-52s at an airbase takeoff, and don't come back. Pretty much everyone in the world knows that means we've just sent them to another base closer to the potential conflict, not watched by news crews, and thus able to strike at an undisclosed time. The term "Saber Rattling" comes to mind, but it's really more of a drawn saber.

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 03:48 PM
Subsonic & transonic jet bombers

1) maximum speed

Yak-26 "Flashlight-B" 1200 km/h
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 1150 km/h
Vautour IIA 1105 km/h
Tu-16 "Badger" 1050 km/h
Vulcan B Mk2 1038 km/h
Martin XB-51 1038 km/h
Victor B Mk2 1030 km/h
B-66 Destroyer 1020 km/h
B-52H Stratofortress 1000 km/h
A-3B Skywarrior 980 km/h
B-47E Stratojet 977 km/h
B-2 Spirit 972 km/h
M-4 "Bison" 947 km/h
B-57B Canberra 936 km/h
Tu-82 934 km/h
Canberra B Mk6 933 km/h
Il-46 928 km/h
B-45A Tornado 920 km/h
Valiant B Mk1 912 km/h
Short Sperrin 912 km/h
Il-28 "Beagle" 900 km/h
Convair XB-46 877 km/h
Tu-14 "Bosun" 848 km/h
Convair YB-60 835 km/h
Northrop YB-49 835 km/h
XB-43 Jetmaster 816 km/h
Martin XB-48 796 km/h
Tu-12 783 km/h
Arado Ar234B 742 km/h
Il-22 718 km/h
Nakajima Kikka 697 km/h
Junkers Ju287 560 km/h

2) rate of climb

Vautour IIA 3600 m/min
Martin XB-51 2130 m/min
B-52H Stratofortress 1911 m/min
B-57B Canberra 1884 m/min
B-45A Tornado 1810 m/min
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 1515 m/min
B-66 Destroyer 1500 m/min
B-47E Stratojet 1422 m/min
Martin XB-48 1278 m/min
Valiant B Mk1 1200 m/min
Northrop YB-49 1146 m/min
Canberra B Mk6 1020 m/min
B-2 Spirit 915 m/min
Il-28 "Beagle" 900 m/min
Arado Ar234B 762 m/min
XB-43 Jetmaster 753 m/min
Il-46 735 m/min
Il-22 581 m/min
Junkers Ju287 580 m/min
Convair XB-46 401 m/min
Nakajima Kikka 387 m/min
Convair YB-60 323 m/min

3) ceiling

Vulcan B Mk2 19912 m
Victor B Mk2 16764 m
Valiant B Mk1 16500 m
Convair YB-60 16200 m
Yak-26 "Flashlight-B" 16000 m
B-2 Spirit 15200 m
Vautour IIA 15200 m
B-52H Stratofortress 15000 m
Canberra B MK6 15000 m
B-45A Tornado 14100 m
Northrop YB-49 13900 m
B-57B Canberra 13745 m
Short Sperrin 13700 m
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 13630 m
Tu-16 "Badger" 12800 m
Il-46 12700 m
A-3B Skywarrior 12500 m
B-47E Stratojet 12344 m
Nakajima Kikka 12303 m
Martin XB-51 12300 m
Il-28 "Beagle" 12300 m
Convair XB-46 12200 m
Martin XB-48 12009 m
B-66 Destroyer 12000 m
XB-43 Jetmaster 11700 m
Tu-82 11400 m
Tu-12 11370 m
Tu-14 "Bosun" 11200 m
Il-22 11100 m
M-4 "Bison" 11000 m
Arado Ar234B 10000 m
Junkers Ju287 9400 m

4) engine thrust

B-52H Stratofortress 608 kN
Vulcan B Mk2 356 kN
M-4 "Bison" 343 kN
B-2 Spirit 308 kN
Victor B Mk2 307,2 kN
Convair YB-60 304 kN
B-47E Stratojet 192 kN
Tu-16 "Badger" 186,4 kN
Valiant B Mk1 178,4 kN
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 168,68 kN
Northrop YB-49 136 kN
Short Sperrin 108 kN
Martin XB-48 102 kN
B-45A Tornado 100 kN
Il-46 98,1 kN
A-3B Skywarrior 93,4 kN
B-66 Destroyer 90 kN
Canberra B Mk6 72 kN
Convair XB-46 71,2 kN
Martin XB-51 69 kN
Vautour IIA 68,6 kN
B-57B Canberra 64,2 kN
Il-28 "Beagle" 53 kN
Tu-14 "Bosun" 53 kN
Tu-82 53 kN
Junkers JU287 52,92 kN
Il-22 50 kN
Tu-12 44 kN
Yak-26 "Flashlight-B" 39,2 kN
XB-43 Jetmster 36 kN
Arado Ar234B 17,6 kN
Nakajima Kikka 9,32 kN

5) weapons payload

Convair YB-60 33000 kg
B-52H Stratofortress 31500 kg
M-4 "Bison" 24000 kg
B-2 Spirit 23000 kg
Victor B Mk2 15890 kg
Northrop YB-49 14500 kg
B-47E Stratojet 11000 kg
B-45A Tornado 10000 kg
Convair XB-46 10000 kg
Martin XB-48 9980 kg
Vulcan B Mk2 9534 kg
Valiant B MK1 9525 kg
Short Sperrin 9091 kg
Tu-16 "Badger" 9000 kg
B-66 Destroyer 6804 kg
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 6000 kg
A-3B Skywarrior 5443 kg
Il-46 5000 kg
Vautour IIA 4000 kg
Junkers Ju287 4000 kg
XB-43 Jetmaster 3629 kg
Canberra B Mk6 3628 kg
B-57B Canberra 3300 kg
Il-28 "Beagle" 3000 kg
Tu-14 "Bosun" 3000 kg
Il-22 3000 kg
Tu-12 3000 kg
Arado Ar234B 1500 kg
Tu-82 1000 kg
Nakajima Kikka 1000 kg
Martin XB-51 900 kg

6) maximum range

B-52H Stratofortress 16232 km
Northrop YB-49 16057 km
Convair YB-60 13000 km
B-2 Spirit 11100 km
M-4 "Bison" 8100 km
Vulcan B Mk2 7408 km
Victor B Mk2 7360 km
Valiant B MK1 7245 km
Tu-16 "Badger" 7200 km
B-47E Stratojet 6494 km
Canberra B MK6 5440 km
Vautour IIA 5400 km
Short Sperrin 5150 km
Il-46 4970 km
Tu-14 "Bosun" 4800 km
Convair XB-46 4621 km
B-57B Canberra 4380 km
XB-43 Jetmaster 4000 km
B-66 Destroyer 3970 km
A-3B Skywarrior 3380 km
Martin XB-48 2900 km
Martin XB-51 2596 km
Tu-82 2395 km
Il-28 "Beagle" 2260 km
Yak-26 "Flashlight-B" 2200 km
Tu-12 2200 km
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 2057 km
B-45A Tornado 1611 km
Junkers JU287 1570 km
Arado Ar234B 1100 km
Nakajima Kikka 937 km
Il-22 865 km

7) production

Il-28 "Beagle" 6731
B-47 Stratojet 2032
Tu-16 "Badger" / Xian H-6 1689
B-57 / EE Canberra 1352
B-52 Stratofortress 744
B-66 Destroyer 294
A-3 Skywarrior 282
Arado Ar234 210
Tu-14 "Bosun" 150
B-45 Tornado 143
AVRO Vulcan 136
Vickers Valiant 107
M-4 "Bison" 93
Handley Page Victor 86
Vautour IIA/B 70
B-2 Spirit 21
Yak-26 "Flashlight-B" 10
Northrop YB-49 6
Tu-12 6
Convair YB-60 2
Martin XB-51 2
Martin XB-48 2
Short Sperrin 2
XB-43 Jetmaster 2
Il-54 "Blowlamp" 2
Junkers Ju287 2
Nakajima Kikka 2
Convair XB-46 1
Tu-82 1
Il-46 1
Il-22 1

edit on 11-6-2011 by kondor because: type error

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 04:09 PM
You can not politically carpet bomb a target anymore. No more rolling thunder

killing civilians is a no no

The buff is a big bomb bomber its made for large weapons 500 pounds or megatons

Today you need small light bombs that are guided pinpoint on target.(GPS)

If it keep up we will have to do what France does and use concrete filled bomb to cut collateral damage.

You can not do the precision bombing needed today with a B52

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 04:33 PM
You don't use B-52 to strike inside cities; for that you have multirole fighters, or attack helicopters. The B-52 is used for the battlefield (like in Desert Storm), or maritime attack with Harpoon missiles on long patrols over the oceans.

"Originally developed for the Navy to serve as its basic anti-ship missile for fleetwide use, the AGM-84D also has been adapted for use on the Air Force's B-52G bombers, which can carry from eight to 12 of the missiles."

By the way, B-52 can use GPS guided bombs (JDAM)

"The JDAM program is nearing the end of its development phase. More than 250 flight tests involved five Air Force and Navy aircraft. JDAM will be carried on virtually all Air Force fighters and bombers, including the B-1, B-2, B-52, F-15E, F-16, F-22, F-117, and F/A-18.

"JDAM was certified as operational capable on the B-2 in July 1997. Limited Initial Operational Capability was achieved on the B-52 in December 1998."

edit on 11-6-2011 by kondor because: missed info

posted on Jun, 12 2011 @ 08:21 AM
The B-52 will be around a long time yet. Its actually still very useful.

It wont be used against enemies with air defenses but where those don't exist it gives you a persistent presence overhead with GPS guided weapons. How many GPS guided SDBs could a B-52 potentially carry? A great many.

The B-2 and B-1B are both massive technological overkill for that kind of role.

You have to applaud the engineers who designed the B-52 with slide rules. They really did an excellent job on the airframe.

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