The Air Force is widely considered the most crucial part of a nation’s defense. It’s a popular opinion that those who control the airspace pretty much dictate the war. For that reason, powerful countries tend to spend significantly on acquiring and developing different kinds of military aircraft.
When it comes to the U.S., the air force emerges as a fleet of the most top-caliber planes ever built. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a particularly historic plane that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has used for several decades.
For those interested, here’s a video showing the aerial prowess of the Boeing B-52 plane. Seeing its sheer size, it is easy to understand why it has the word “Stratofortress” in its name.
Boeing B-52 overview and features
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range bomber plane that travels in the subsonic speed range (slower than the speed of sound). It is a strategic bomber, mainly intended for destroying infrastructure, logistics, and the like, rather than taking out enemy aircraft. Within the USAF, it’s more popular as BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fella), understandably due to its intimidating size.
Coming to its capabilities, the latest B-52H variant is capable of carrying out various types of missions, from strategic missions to offensive missions. It can be equipped with standard plane artillery or even nuclear weapons, with a weight upper limit of 32,000kg or 70,000lbs. Moreover, it can fly as high as 15,166m (~50,000ft) and travel for up to 14,080km (8,800mi) on a full fuel tank.
Previous missions and present status
For more than 67 years, BUFF has served the American air force in various missions conducted around the world. During the Cold War, the U.S. fitted Boeing B-52s with nukes and flew them near U.S.S.R. as part of its nuclear deterrence plan.
Over the coming years, BUFF also played a role in the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. In fact, despite its last unit being produced in 1962, the plane is still in service with USAF and receives regular maintenance from Boeing. As of now, the U.S. expects to use the Stratofortress well beyond 2050.
By the way, how highly do you rate your country’s air force? Share your thoughts in the comments. Until next time, here’s another prominent Boeing military plane that you want to check out.