B-52: The Air Force Bomber That Could Fly 100 Years?

In spite of having been in service for almost 70 years, the B-52 Stratofortress continues to be the primary bomber for the United States Air Force.

Last week, a B-52 flew over the Gulf of Finland as part of a “strategic deterrence” flight to Russia and a show of support for Finland.

At one point in the flight, the long-range heavy bomber was just 200 km from the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

” In general, we have a good understanding of the situation and good cooperation with NATO, so there are no surprises in this case,” Finnish Defense Minister Kaikkonen told local media, adding that this type of flight Is normal. “It’s about maintaining a kind of strategic deterrence.”

The flight comes as Finland, and its neighbor Sweden, continue to try to join NATO. It came just days after a pair of B-52 jets from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomber Squadron integrated with NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

The bombers, deployed at the Morón Air Base ( Spain ) as part of a Bomber Task Force mission, flew across the Mediterranean and headed for Bulgaria to join the Bulgarian Armed Forces, thus contributing to reinforcing NATO’s position in Eastern Europe.

The plane then flew over Romania to take part in a NATO exercise. Following the conclusion of the NATO exercise in Romania, the Stratofortresses continued their mission in Hungarian airspace, improving the necessary readiness and training for the crew.

These missions of the Bomber Task Force are designed to test and improve the interoperability of the US Air Force with NATO partners while preserving unified air awareness in the EUCOM area of operations.

“ Bomber Task Force missions underscore America’s capabilities and its commitment to working closely with its allies and partners,” said Commander Douglas Hulsey, Bomber Task Force planner. “Collaboration with our NATO counterparts allows us to optimize our combined capabilities while deterring aggression against NATO.”

There’s no question that the B-52 goes for miles, as another nuclear-capable Stratofortress participated in joint operations with South Korea earlier this month.

The B-21 Raider is coming, and the B-52 is not leaving.

Stratofortress will continue to deter China, Russia, and other potentially hostile nations even when Northrop Grumman’s upcoming B-21 Raider enters service later in the decade and becomes the “backbone” of the bomber fleet.

Earlier this month, Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, head of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), reaffirmed that the Cold War-era bomber would remain in service for decades to come. However, Bussiere quickly clarified that it would not be the same plane as always.

“ We are upgrading everything: new radars, engines, improved communications, and data link capabilities,” he declared in an interview with Air & Space Forces Magazine.

A big payload and the ability to carry a wide variety of ordnance, including long-range missiles and hypersonic weapons, ensure that it will continue to serve as the Air Force’s primary airlifted despite its lack of stealth capabilities. Hence, when the B-52 is finally retired, it may have served for a whole century.