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B-52 Gets First Full IT Upgrade Since 1961

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the all-the-better-to-bomb-you-with dept.

The Military 190

An anonymous reader writes in with good news for everyone who wants to hold a LAN party in a Stratofortress. "The US Air Force's 10th Flight Test Squadron recently took delivery of the first B-52H Stratofortress to complete a refit through the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) program. It's an effort to bring the Cold War era heavy bomber into the 21st century way of warfare—or at least up to the 1990s, technology-wise. While the aircraft received piecemeal upgrades over the past 50 years of flying, CONECT is the first major information technology overhaul for the Air Force's B-52H fleet since the airplanes started entering service in 1961."

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The B-52 will be a century old at this rate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47095523)

Those things just keep on flying, despite more hours than can be believed.

I wonder (4, Insightful)

stox (131684) | about 7 months ago | (#47095525)

if an engineer, who designed the B52, would have imagined, in their wildest dreams, that the B52 would still be a major weapon of war over 50 years after it was built?

Re:I wonder (0)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 7 months ago | (#47095559)

if an engineer, who designed the B52, would have imagined, in their wildest dreams, that the B52 would still be a major weapon of war over 50 years after it was built?

I don't know that I'd call it a 'major weapon of war' these days, more counterinsurgency.

Re:I wonder (5, Interesting)

Darth Turbogeek (142348) | about 7 months ago | (#47095849)

Given the number of cruise missiles it carries - yes it is. If you absolutly, positively need to fuck up someone's day, a B52 is still one of the ebst weapons to do it.

Re:I wonder (0, Flamebait)

cavreader (1903280) | about 7 months ago | (#47095927)

Today's stealth fighters, early warning radar systems, satellite tracking, and advanced anti-air missile systems on land or water makes this plane nothing more than a slow moving target. Even if they were able to release all it's ordinance it would still be a one shot weapon. They would be better served to take all the money spent on an outdated weapons platform and build a few more B-2's if they are really hard up for more strategic bombers.

Re:I wonder (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 7 months ago | (#47095973)

We only built a handful of modern fighters and B2s. If that handful gives us air supremacy, the B52s work just find for the heavy lifting. Since the military actually tries to save money these days, and budgets only shrink, a cost-effective bomber that's already built and flying certainly has its place.

Re:I wonder (4, Insightful)

Zeio (325157) | about 7 months ago | (#47097009)

As someone whose spouse works in government and I have friends in the government supplying parts to the Air Force, I have knowledge about budgets. They are NEVER cut. In fact, not getting an increase is getting a cut. Also they ALWAYS burn all the money appropriated, as not doing so will mean that the money will not be available the next budget cycle. The stupid corrupted government may take the money they have a use it stupidly but lets not even claim there is ever a cut.

In fact the government uses baseline budgeting which prevents the ability to ever even cut the total amount - its just moved around from one corrupt thing to another.

I do agree that between radar hunting missiles and missile systems and the ability to completely destroy any country's (beside China or Russia) radar and SAM and AAA capability before flying manned sorties over enemy airspace prevents the need for anything more than a B52 - a radar cross signature of the the empire state building and subsonic - perfectly usable in a modern theater. If the B52 cant fly at FL350 with impunity, you have a lot more work to do or your friends that need burning from the air got a fresh load of portable/hand held SAMs.

Re:I wonder (3, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 months ago | (#47096235)

Today's stealth fighters, early warning radar systems, satellite tracking, and advanced anti-air missile systems on land or water makes this plane nothing more than a slow moving target.

Which is why a few stealth fighters and bombers go in first, take out ALL the air defenses, THEN the B-52s go in there and carpet-bomb the hell out of the rest of the place. The B-52 is fairly slow, but that fills a role than the military badly NEEDS at times.

Even if they were able to release all it's ordinance it would still be a one shot weapon.

Circular logic. If they release all their weapons, then they won't have anymore. If they release one or a few at a time (which is what they do in Afghanistan), then they've got a long-long time in the air, able to fire a few more at any time, lingering over targets longer than just about any other aircraft.

They would be better served to take all the money spent on an outdated weapons platform and build a few more B-2's if they are really hard up for more strategic bombers.

Demonstrating that you know nothing about the subject. B-2s don't have the linger time, maneuverability, survivability, as much payload capacity, and operating costs are several times higher. If the B-52 is to be replaced with anything, it'll be the non-stealth B-1s.

Re:I wonder (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 months ago | (#47097357)

Well, the B1 is NOT likely going to replace the B-52. Instead, it will be hyper-sonic drones flying at mach 10 or more around 2025.

Re:I wonder (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 months ago | (#47097529)

Well, the B1 is NOT likely going to replace the B-52.

The two are largely equivalent, TODAY. The B-1 and B-52s are regularly in competition for each bombing run... In other words, the B-1 replaces the B-52 every time it takes off. They say it has lower operating costs, so it makes sense as a replacement.

it will be hyper-sonic drones flying at mach 10 or more around 2025.

The B-52 has long linger time over a target... A feature which is often used to support soldiers on the ground. A supersonic craft would have just about ZERO linger time, making it absolutely useless for this task, and meaning that they'd have to keep the B-52 in service if that's the only replacement on the table.

More than that, there's only vague plans for a prototype of a Mach 6 spy-aircraft from Lockheed in the 2020s, if they suddenly get full funding.. There's not a snowball's chance in hell of Mach 10 drone bombers by 2025.

Re:I wonder (1, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#47097649)

Today's stealth fighters, early warning radar systems, satellite tracking, and advanced anti-air missile systems on land or water makes this plane nothing more than a slow moving target.

Which is why a few stealth fighters and bombers go in first, take out ALL the air defenses, THEN the B-52s go in there and carpet-bomb the hell out of the rest of the place. The B-52 is fairly slow, but that fills a role than the military badly NEEDS at times.

The heavy bomber's day has come and gone like the battleship. It's main role is demonstration, not waging war.

First off, lets ignore the fact carpet bombing has minimal effectiveness.

Most people have forgotten the last total war and only remember the wars where the enemy could not effectively fight back in the air.

The B52 has never been tested in the crucible of war, they've always been out of reach. In Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had limited to no abilities to counter or intercept B52. To imagine how a B52 would perform against an enemy that can field a full array of anti-air defences you have to go back to the B52's great, great, great granddaddy, the B17. The B17 was a very hardy, venerable aircraft but it was still shot down by the bucket loads by the Germans.

At the start of the war (WWII), 18 months before the entry of the US, the British war ministry made a calculation that their existing fleet of Blenheims and Wellingtons would be destroyed within 3 months (and that the existing designs were insufficient for the task) they immediately began producing more, this resulted in aircraft like the Mosquito and Avro Lancaster being produced. However the point is that losses were expected and replacements would be needed.

The same story was true with the B17. The B17 and Lancaster fit the bill for being capable aircraft but above that, cheap and easy to produce.

That is the problem with the B52. It's all good and well to say the current fleet is fine but the current fleet wont last six months against Russia or China if it is used. You'll need replacements and it's much faster and cheaper to build a multitude of drones than it is to build a manned heavy bomber.

A B52H has a flyaway cost of $81 million and requires 6 crew.
A MQ9 Reaper has a flyaway cost of $17 million.
A MQ1 Predator has a flyaway cost of $4.5 million.

Going by the last war, it takes a minimum of 3 months to train an aircrew.

Re:I wonder (3)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 months ago | (#47097697)

The heavy bomber's day has come and gone like the battleship. It's main role is demonstration, not waging war.

First off, lets ignore the fact carpet bombing has minimal effectiveness.

Except B-52s were getting frequent and daily use in Afghanistan. They are still extremely useful.

Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had limited to no abilities to counter or intercept B52.

Iraq had the 4th largest Army in the world. They certainly had plenty of air defenses.

the current fleet wont last six months against Russia or China if it is used.

Many weapons are useful against certain enemies, and not viable against others. The later doesn't eliminate the former. Humvees and Strykers would be death-traps driving among enemy tanks... And yet soldiers in Afghanistan don't go down the street in M1 Abrams.

It's utterly idiotic to claim that we need ONE weapon that does everything for everyone, all the time.

Besides, there's very nearly zero chance we'd ever get into a land war against a major nuclear power. Either our air-power will decimate their capabilities in the first few hours, or theirs will do so to us, soon after.

it's much faster and cheaper to build a multitude of drones than it is to build a manned heavy bomber.

And the drones you listed are faster and cheaper to build because they don't have the tiniest fraction the capabilities of a heavy bomber... Bullets are cheaper and faster to build than cruise missiles, too.

Re:I wonder (4, Funny)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 7 months ago | (#47096311)

Drones as decoys (and eventually attack roles) in conjunction with stealth planes are used to disable radar stations and SAM launchers. in the beginning of an air campaign. Once they've done their mission they are pointless. They don't carry much of a payload in comparison to a B-52, and are very expensive. A current B52 can carry 72 - 750 lb. bombs. Vs. a B2 that can carry 36. Once the B52 gets this upgrade, they will use internal rotary launchers that will increase their payload capacity by 66%.

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] The B-52 turned out the lights in Baghdad."[187] During Operation Desert Storm, B-52s flew about 1,620 sorties, and delivered 40% of the weapons dropped by coalition forces.

The conventional strikes were carried out by three bombers, which dropped up to 153 750-pound bombs over an area of 1.5 by 1 mi (2.4 by 1.6 km). The bombings demoralized the defending Iraqi troops, many of whom surrendered in the wake of the strikes.

Re:I wonder (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 7 months ago | (#47096415)

One shot weapon?? It's a strategic nuclear bomber. It flies 500mph at 50,000 feet, launches potentially nuclear cruise missiles and guided bombs from hundreds of miles away from its target, and each one can carry enough ordnance to wipe out a small country in Europe.

A few might be shot down when used against a 1st world military, but first, calling strategic bombers one shot weapons is silly, and second, if they are ever used against militaries that would have any chance at shooting many of them down (ie. Russia or China) "one shot" is pretty much going to end the war (any maybe much of civilization).

Re:I wonder (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 7 months ago | (#47096683)

Actually it's more like 500 knots at 300 feet. Under the radar is what it excels at.

I think you're thinking of the B1B (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 7 months ago | (#47097145)

Which is the plane that's the low-level penetrator. (Man, that sounds dirty.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

Re:I think you're thinking of the B1B (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 7 months ago | (#47097369)

All modern bombers are designed to make low-level entry. The B-52 was originally designed for high altitude bombardment but later was given terrain following radar and other upgrades to enable low level attack. The B-1B has much more speed but really when you're down in the dirt it's all sub sonic anyway. We had a B-1 do a pass over the high school stadium here one year for Indepence Day celebration. He rolled across the north side of town on his way to the stadium which sits on the Southern side of the city. The damn thing busted windows all across the flight path and he never exceeded the sound barrier. They make so much noise it's incredible. I was glad when the noisy things went to Texas.

Re:I wonder (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 7 months ago | (#47096677)

It's big slow and ugly but it still fulfills it's mission perfectly. It's the ultimate bombing platform. Sure you can't use it at will unless you have air supremacy but once you do it's the single most economical way to destroy someone.

Re:I wonder (2)

Zeio (325157) | about 7 months ago | (#47096975)

Not correct. You could use a B-29 SuperFortress for this role these days. It could be anything. max speed could be 200 kts. The point is that modern air combat and ordinance delivery by first-world combatants is largely done after the total and complete destruction of SAM, Radar, AAA and a knowledge of about how many Stinger-style hand held SAMs exist in the theater. The B-52 is a cheap, existing heavy lift platform that has a good operational history and low incident rate and is reasonably efficient in terms of mileage. It also has the most flexibility in ordinance available today, it can literally deliver anything in the arsenal - maybe not the BLU-82, but I think even the MOAB will go in there. The point is that yes it has a radar cross-signature of the empire state, but with an operational capability at FL35 and a ceiling at FL50, this thing is good enough to cart ordinance to whatever tird world nation is being burnt from the air this week. As the Valkyrie XB-70 and the corresponding interceptor the MiG 25 foxbat has shown that using insane speed as a mechanism for ordinance delivery is ineffective. In fact, the more interesting thing about the B1B is originally it was much faster but they slowed it down and gave it ground-hugging avionics to evade radar to deliver. However, this strategy is no longer effective either. For "real war" ICBMs can destroy everything down to radioactive dust, and for any other target without ICBM a crushing salvo of radar killing missiles and strikes will be deployed and the radar and SAM capability will be completely destroyed before any manned sorties are flown. As we saw with the B-2 spirit, speed is no longer needed - stealth was and the B-2 has been rendered useless by the latest generation of Russian radar technology.

Re:I wonder (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 7 months ago | (#47097559)

- maybe not the BLU-82

Wow, what a fascinating weapon [wikipedia.org] . Thank you, now I know what a Daisy Cutter is. :)

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47097317)

B-52, toughest truck ever to fly, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJuEAQbxWRo

Re:I wonder (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 7 months ago | (#47096075)

Given the number of cruise missiles it carries - yes it is. If you absolutly, positively need to fuck up someone's day, a B52 is still one of the ebst weapons to do it.

Still being used purely for counterinsurgency operations.

Re:I wonder (3, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 months ago | (#47096183)

Still being used purely for counterinsurgency operations.

Only true, today, because that's the only kind of wars the US is fighting at this time. But B-52s absolutely are used in other roles than counterinsurgency.

"B-52s also played a role in Operation Iraqi Freedom," long before the insurgency even began.

"B-52 strikes were an important part of Operation Desert Storm," in which the US did not face a notable insurgency.

"B-52 had the highest mission capable rate of the three types of heavy bombers operated by the USAF in 2001."

Re:I wonder (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 months ago | (#47097035)

Counter insurgency is probably going to continue to be the major job for the US Military, well into the future, so the B-52 will have job security for quite a long time.

"I think you could say that there are two fundamental ways to fight the US Military: asymmetrically and stupid." -Major General Herbert Raymond McMaster (2014/05/24)

Re:I wonder (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 7 months ago | (#47097275)

Cruise missiles can carry a nuclear warhead. A B-52 can carry 20 cruise missiles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_delivery#Cruise_missile [wikipedia.org] ) and is the only platform usable for these stealth weapons. We allegedly agreed not to put stealth weapons on stealth aircraft in a treaty (honored but not ratified), so this bird is going to be around for a while... And 20 nukes targeted to that extreme would certainly fuck up the day of a lot of people.

Re:I wonder (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#47095935)

a single B52 can utterly destroy any country on this planet. Yes even china and russia. The number of heavy nukes one can carry is quite scary.

In the Bay it can carry up to 20 AGM-69 SRAM nuclear missiles. That is 20 cities obliterated.... But wait...
It can also carry12 AGM-86s, on underwing pylons.

So now not only can we nuke 20 cities out of existence, but it can also blow to hell 12 military bases or small towns just for giggles.

Now here is some fun, when they SCRAM they fly in 3-5 aircraft formations towards their targets. That is 60-100 Nukes and 52 Kaboom splatters each.

Still think they are just for dropping small bombs on goats?

Re:I wonder (0, Troll)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 7 months ago | (#47096067)

But they aren't being used as weapons of war. They just do shit like bomb weddings. And goats.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096131)

How about if we use it for shit bombing of your home? I bet you are also anti gun.

Re:I wonder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096923)

How about if we use it for shit bombing of your home? I bet you are also anti gun.

How about you drop to your knees and open your mouth
so you can swallow my hot load like you have dreamed
of doing, you pathetic gutless white trash piece of subhuman
spunk.

Re:I wonder (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 months ago | (#47097367)

Yes, they bombed weddings and goats.
Of course, there were AQ there in all cases, though many choose to ignore the fact that AQ warriors like to surround themselves with innocent ppl and goats so as to spread the death.

Re:I wonder (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47097455)

It's over. There's no point pushing the propaganda of a perfect machine anymore, especially since the truth has come out about civilian spooks playing James Bond, leapfrogging chains of command and fucking up military operations.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096205)

The loading of 20 AGM-69s is including the pylons on the wings, and you can't use them twice. Which is kind of besides the point, as they were all decommissioned 20 years ago. I think the 86's are still around though.

Stupid argument anyway. They'll never be used in a nuclear role, because if a b-52 gets through and hits a target inside russia, it's good night, anyway. And if they're using conventional weapons they'll be shot down in short order by anyone with half decent AA. Hell, 1960's AA for that matter.

They are very effective at carpet bombing civilians, though. on a budget.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096397)

a single B52 can utterly destroy any country on this planet. Yes even china and russia. The number of heavy nukes one can carry is quite scary.

In the Bay it can carry up to 20 AGM-69 SRAM nuclear missiles. That is 20 cities obliterated.... But wait...
It can also carry12 AGM-86s, on underwing pylons.

So now not only can we nuke 20 cities out of existence, but it can also blow to hell 12 military bases or small towns just for giggles.

Now here is some fun, when they SCRAM they fly in 3-5 aircraft formations towards their targets. That is 60-100 Nukes and 52 Kaboom splatters each.

Still think they are just for dropping small bombs on goats?

The SRAM was retired in the 90's, however the BUFF can carry 8 AGM-86B in the bomb bay, and 6 on each wing for a total of 20 missiles.

Re:I wonder (-1)

mspring (126862) | about 7 months ago | (#47096521)

Just as a thought experiment, imagine your parents (or whatever "loved ones" you value) being in one of these 20 cities...

Re:I wonder (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 months ago | (#47096909)

I live outside of Houston and work inside the 610 loop. I'm very much a target as any other major city on this planet. I don't think many people are fond of nuclear weapons being used anywhere. When living in a major populated city, you're a target whether you like it or not.

Re:I wonder (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 months ago | (#47097381)

Well, first off, Houston will not be first. They do not have enough military right there. BUT, they will be in the second wave and yes, the chinese WILL use multiple waves.

As to not being fond of them, well, that is why we need them. The last thing that we want to do is lower the count to say 1000 missiles, esp. since China is obviously building many more and trying to keep it quiet.

Re:I wonder (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 7 months ago | (#47097589)

Well, first off, Houston will not be first. They do not have enough military right there.

Well, that's a crying shame for Houston then. I understand one either wants to be first (night-night, WWIII is now someone else's problem) or last (oooo-oooh, pretty, wonder when mine's going to arrive?).. on the whole I'd prefer the latter, myself, on the assumption that I don't make it through *all* the loud bits alive.

BUT, they will be in the second wave and yes, the chinese WILL use multiple waves.

You're quite right of course. When we're talking food it seems there's never enough, always a shortage somewhere in the world because of yield, or transport problems or local warlords etc. When we're on the topic of launched nukes though, it seems there's always plenty enough for a generous helping for everyone.

Re:I wonder (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about 7 months ago | (#47097251)

They'd be fine. The AGM-69 was decommissioned in the early 90s.

Re:I wonder (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47097447)

Yes even china and russia

The Japanese, French and Germans or anyone that has paid some attention to the history of those places would disagree. Vast amounts of destruction in China and Russian just meant that defence material had to be supplied from a different few hundred little cities or towns that were not destroyed.

ReI don't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096123)

Re:I don't know that I would call you an intelligent person when it comes to air war.

Re:I wonder (5, Informative)

o'reor (581921) | about 7 months ago | (#47095587)

Tell that to the russian engineers at Tupolev. The Tu-95 "Bear" [wikipedia.org] , the soviet counterpart of Boeing's B-52, was first flown in 1952, and is still in active service 62 years later. Pretty damn fast too for a turboprop bomber.

Re:I wonder (1)

mirix (1649853) | about 7 months ago | (#47095735)

Counter rotating props are pretty neat. Shame about the racket they make, though. Never seen one flying, but they're supposed to be loud as hell.

Re:I wonder (4, Interesting)

nojayuk (567177) | about 7 months ago | (#47095951)

A couple of Tu-95 Bears flew down towards the north of Scotland a few weeks back, the RAF went up to welcome them outside the national limit and got some nice pictures. I grabbed them off the MoD website and bundled them up since most of my friends are Apple fans and don't do Flash.

https://www.mediafire.com/?fs5... [mediafire.com]

Runs to about 12MB or so as a zip download.

Re:I wonder (3, Informative)

charlesr44403 (1504587) | about 7 months ago | (#47095985)

The B-52 goes back just as far as the Bear - it's the current H series that came out in 1961.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096007)

Yeah, but the Tu-95 was still in production well into the '90s. The B-52 was only produced for 10 years, so a pilot flying a B-52 today could be flying the exact same airframe that his father or grandfather flew!

OTOH, I can see how an engineer in the 1950s would not expect that his turboprop bomber design would still be in use six decades later, while the jet bomber engineer might not see much to improve.

BTW, the tips of the props on the Tu-95 actually exceed the speed of sound! I don't know of any other aircraft with that feature.

dom

Re:I wonder (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 7 months ago | (#47095613)

Some of the ones that just got upgraded will probably keep flying for another 50 years - the Air Force plans to keep flying them at least until 2040, and I see no reason why they won't just keep using it.

It's the pickup truck of strategic warfare. It's cheap, it can carry a huge payload, and it's reliable. Sure, it's slower than the speed of sound and is about as stealthy as a jackhammer, but for some jobs that doesn't matter.

To this very day, the Air Force has more active B-52s than B-1 or B-2 bombers.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47095717)

They did build only 21 B-2s, and barely over 100 B-1s.

B-52s? 744. G's and H's were 193 and 102.

Re:I wonder (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 7 months ago | (#47096003)

...Sure, it's slower than the speed of sound and is about as stealthy as a jackhammer, but for some jobs that doesn't matter.

But the electronics bays are about the size of a typical garage and as easy to get into and out of. The airframe may have the radar cross section of a battleship but stick enough jammers in the electronics bays and you'd be surprised how hard it is to hit one.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:I wonder (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#47096595)

Stealth is like making a ground vehicle mine-resistant or amphibious - it's an advantage, all else being equal, but due to design compromises all else cannot be equal.

Re:I wonder (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 7 months ago | (#47097153)

When you don't want them to know you're coming: stealth.

When you don't care if they know you're coming but don't want to get shot down: jam.

All current (B-2 and F-22) and past (F-117) stealth aircraft become "unstealthy" for weapons release. If you have achieved surprise, that doesn't matter. When it's not a surprise, well, that's how the Serbs shot down an F-117.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:I wonder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096143)

Shame they want to junk the A-10 Thunderbolt though. Slow, lumbering, turns on a time titanium shrouded pilot box and engines. Take a lickin and keep on tickin.

Re:I wonder (1)

QQBoss (2527196) | about 7 months ago | (#47096661)

The BUF (Big Ugly F*cker) and the Warthog earned their nicknames honestly, but I bet if the person who nicknamed the A-10 had been from the southern USA, it would have been nicknamed the Armadillo for the bathtub, with the double bonus of being only slightly better in a beauty contest than a warthog. Although there is the wrong speed bump metaphor going on with the name Armadillo...

Both of those platforms have a niche which no other can compete with yet. Wikipedia has the following to say about the A-10, though: In the House Armed Services Committee's markup of the FY 2015 budget, language was included that to allow the retirement of the A-10 fleet. The markup limited the availability of funds for retirement unless each plane could be kept in type-1000 storage, meaning they could be readily reactivated if needed. Even with this condition, the markup did not specifically prohibit the Air Force from retiring the fleet in FY 2015. The day following the HASC markup, the Senate refused the idea of placing the A-10 in any type of storage and reaffirmed its position that the fleet be kept fully active. Shortly after, the HASC passed an amendment to their markup blocking A-10 retirement. It stipulates that the fleet cannot be retired or even stored until the U.S. Comptroller General completes certifications and studies on other Air Force platforms used to perform CAS. Assessments will include cost per plane for conducting CAS missions, identifying if other aircraft able to successfully perform the mission, and the capabilities of each plane used in that role. The Senate Armed Services Committee markup would direct $320 million saved from personnel cuts to keep the A-10 flying. Both chambers of Congress have now drafted plans to keep the A-10 in Air Force service for at least another year. [wikipedia.org]

At least another year... hopefully we can keep that going until there is a true replacement for the ground pounder's best friend.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096095)

I hope it doesn't affect the operation of the CRM 114.

jr

Re:I wonder (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#47096547)

if an engineer, who designed the B52, would have imagined, in their wildest dreams, that the B52 would still be a major weapon of war over 50 years after it was built?

I wonder if he'd be alive to ask. It went into service in 1955. A junior engineer just out of college getting in on the tail end of development would be 81 years old now. A "senior engineer" at Boeing -- let's say mid 30s -- in the 1946-52 timeframe from contract award to first flight would be pushing 100 now . . .

Re:I wonder (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#47096725)

One of the primary designers of the B-52, George Schairer [wikipedia.org] died in 2004.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47097013)

Boeing layed them off years ago and outsourced the work to Russian and India.

As General "Buck" Turgidson said (2)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 7 months ago | (#47095527)

"If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust......frying chickens in the barnyard!"

Re:As General "Buck" Turgidson said (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 7 months ago | (#47095689)

And here are the results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=182AepOJjMs [youtube.com] I guess he wasn't that good after all. Actually if you look into the story here it's really tragic.

Re:As General "Buck" Turgidson said (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#47095861)

Important safety tip: don't let a hot-dog get a B52 sideways. Especially only 250 feet AGL, at just above level flight stall speed.

Re:As General "Buck" Turgidson said (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 7 months ago | (#47095895)

I guess he wasn't that good after all.

Not nearly as good. That crash advertised itself in advance, repeatedly, and everybody else missed every opportunity to head it off.

Good! (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about 7 months ago | (#47095591)

Good... Now if we could just get the FAA stuff off of 360's, we're in business!

So I get to play COD while on COD? (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 7 months ago | (#47095597)

Captain, this is a complete rip off, I thought they put Xbox Kinects in these. I was totally going to play COD too, and not Kinectimals.

In all seriousness, Happy Memorial Day.

Re:So I get to play COD while on COD? (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 7 months ago | (#47095611)

Just a clarification, I'm not in nor was in the military, the pronoun I is designated as a random person exclaiming it.

YeeeeeeHaaaaaa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47095683)

Gonna kill me some ruskies!
Yours,
Maj. King Kong

Missles and drones have to be cheaper than a B-52 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47095685)

Maybe there is a tactical angle I don't see here, but it has to be very expensive to keep these carpet bombing condors flying.

B-52 can carry 20 missiles 5,000 miles, maintaince (4, Interesting)

raymorris (2726007) | about 7 months ago | (#47095741)

If missiles are called for, you'll need something to get the missiles within range. A B-52 can carry 20 cruise missiles 5,000 miles. Since the US has B-52s stationed around the world, they can put missiles anywhere on the planet.

You COULD use ICBMs, but maintaining appreviously purchased aircraft is a lot less expensive than building a bunch of ICBMs.

A former co-worker of mine worked on designing a drone that can be dropped from the B-52. The earlier comment was pretty accurate - the B-52 is the pickup truck of the air, very versatile and conservatively inexpensive.

Re:B-52 can carry 20 missiles 5,000 miles, maintai (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#47095961)

A B52 can put a nuke on target faster than an ICBM can.

Re:B-52 can carry 20 missiles 5,000 miles, maintai (1)

JeffAtl (1737988) | about 7 months ago | (#47096105)

Could you elaborate?

Re:B-52 can carry 20 missiles 5,000 miles, maintai (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 months ago | (#47096089)

You COULD use ICBMs, but maintaining appreviously purchased aircraft is a lot less expensive than building a bunch of ICBMs.

ICBMs are a no-no. Too quick from launch to impact, and too difficult to quickly tell where they are going to land. The Russians would be having heart attacks at record-setting levels if the US switched to all-ICBMs all-the-time, since the middle-east isn't far from Russia (not far for an ICBM, that is).

Not quite so true in the reverse case, as since Russia doesn't ever get into skirmishes with any American countries, so we've got a big ocean buffer.

Besides, I think the GP was just assuming that a new model of aircraft would be more cost-effective than B-52s... Not realizing that the engines have been replaced/upgraded, aerospace materials haven't changed yet, and the aerodynamics of the old sky truck are still good.

And bombers are easier to recall, (1)

Grey Geezer (2699315) | about 7 months ago | (#47096471)

Dr. Strangelove references aside, long range bombers, standing off, in holding patterns, might be less likely to escalate tensions than a missile launch would.

Re:And bombers are easier to recall, (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47097489)

When the records were released in Russia apparently a US historian went looking for references to such games played when Nixon was doing his "madman theory" sabre rattling and failed to find anything to indicate they were taken seriously. Then again, they were used to real madmen in charge why fall for a fake?
Reagan on the other hand managed to restart the cold war to an extent and couldn't resist poking the dying empire of the USSR - I wonder if he knew how dangerous that was with the USSR on a vast building spree of nuclear bombs corruptly engineered for the personal profit of some people involved in bomb production? The "missile gap" invented by Kennedy really did exist when the USSR fell.

Re:Missles and drones have to be cheaper than a B- (3, Insightful)

raxx7 (205260) | about 7 months ago | (#47095771)

Bombs, even precision GPS or laser guided ones, are much cheaper than missiles. And a B-52 can carry a lot of them.
As a platform for loitering around an area and dropping precision weapons as requested, it should be the most cost effective platform USAF has.
And the option of carpet bombing is occasionally useful too.

Re:Missles and drones have to be cheaper than a B- (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 7 months ago | (#47096019)

...And the option of carpet bombing is occasionally useful too.

The politically correct term in today's environment is "long stick." I understand that the 750 lb. bombs typically dropped by B-52s for this kind of mission are extremely effective.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:Missles and drones have to be cheaper than a B- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096433)

But to drop bombs you have to penetrate enemy airspace, which is not a realistic option for the B-52 if the enemy has a modern IADS. (Integrated Air Defense System) The B-52 is however capable of carrying missiles which can be employed from outside enemy defenses. The AGM-86 comes in both nuclear (ALCM) and conventional versions (CALCM). The conventional versions were used in the opening days of both Iraq wars, as well as Afghanistan. Once the IADS was destroyed by the CALCM the BUFF was then used to employ smart weapons such as the JDAM and WCMD. In addition the B-52 is used for CAS (Close Air Support) where they are required to communicate with forces on the ground to receive targets, and destroy said targets which are usually in close proximity (read shooting at) friendly forces.

Re:Missles and drones have to be cheaper than a B- (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 7 months ago | (#47096777)

They do have plans in effect to deal with air defenses. A portion of any attack will be targeted on the anti-air assets. Of course in a full scale nuclear assault ICBM's from both land bases and subs plus sub launched cruise missiles will be utilized as well. A lot to deal with. MAD makes a mess.

Re:Missles and drones have to be cheaper than a B- (2)

QQBoss (2527196) | about 7 months ago | (#47096767)

When you figure out how to recall a missile without loss of the airframe and other important explodey-bits, get back to us. Not to mention freaking out a couple of other countries with their own ICBMs when they can't tell if the missile you say is headed over the pole to a given -stan is going to fall short and hit Russia or go wide and hit China, so they have to order their own launches before the descent half of the arc (bonus points for MIRVs).

As for drones, there is a reason why you always try to take out the C&C first when it even a modestly viable option. With the B-52 in stand-off mode, every flight team is its own C&C when things go sideways. Much harder all of them than to take out than a single 'air wing' (not intending to be derisive of drone pilots- a meaningful MOS, but it does bring clarification to ChAir Force) based outside of Las Vegas.

Some day, hopefully none of this will be necessary. It won't be in our lifetimes, though. Until then, Semper Fi, and, thank you, Dad and all other veterans.

Admiral Adama wouldn't allow this. (4, Funny)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | about 7 months ago | (#47095729)

Not even when he was only a Commander.

IT upgrade for a machine that predates IT (5, Insightful)

erice (13380) | about 7 months ago | (#47095809)

Well, not exactly. But certainly if you proposed having a computer onboard in 1961, the first reaction would be: The B52 is big but it's not that big!

Second would be "What would you do with one?"

Re:IT upgrade for a machine that predates IT (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#47097139)

Well, not exactly. But certainly if you proposed having a computer onboard in 1961, the first reaction would be: The B52 is big but it's not that big!

That wouldn't be the first reaction of anyone with a clue - by 1961 there were already small computers in production. (For use in missile guidance systems if nothing else. This picture [navsource.org] shows the Polaris A-1 (1960) guidance on the right, the unit includes both the inertial assembly *and* the guidance computer.)

Re:IT upgrade for a machine that predates IT (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 7 months ago | (#47097219)

Well, not exactly. But certainly if you proposed having a computer onboard in 1961, the first reaction would be: The B52 is big but it's not that big!

Second would be "What would you do with one?"

You would be surprised, but there were computers onboard at the time. Not digital ones though - analog ones. And most likely only partially electronic - usually just a collection of gears and gyros.

The computer is for aiding the bombardier with targeting the weapons - it gets as inputs the plane's direction, airspeed, windspeed (or groundspeed), etc. and drives a bombsight for aiming purposes

Crude, but they work.

Digital computers didn't make headway into aircraft until the mid to late 70s or so, though analog computers still ruled, this time instead of being huge mechanical beasts, they shrunk down to analog electronic computers. (Hint: thank you op-amps. The "operation" part does computations like addition, subtraction, integration, differentiation, multiplication, division, etc).

Re:IT upgrade for a machine that predates IT (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47097503)

Apparently the large cargo Antanov has control systems made up of racks of gear with valves. A retired electrical transmission engineer I know (who did plenty of design work with valves in his career) was shown around inside one, and he suspected it was to deal with an EMP pulse. There's probably American stuff that is EMP hardened as well but there are solid state ways of doing it that were used by NASA before they sent the first probe near Jupiter.

BUFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47095875)

Nuff said.

2040 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47095907)

Can't remember where I read it but the B-52 is planned by the military to be in service until 2040.

Re:2040 (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 7 months ago | (#47096785)

I imagine they'll replace it with an autonomous aircraft around then. Manned warcraft will most likely be well on the way out by then.

Oh Damn... (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about 7 months ago | (#47096013)

Now Skynet has bombers!

Let me guess... (0)

NReitzel (77941) | about 7 months ago | (#47096017)

Let me guess. The New B-52 IT upgrades feature a raft of combat-certified computers, all running Windows XP.

That thought makes me smile. Can you plan Hack-a-Bomber ?

I'm not serious, but the Pentagon and USAF have done dumber things.

Re:Let me guess... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 7 months ago | (#47096797)

I do believe they've upgraded to Vista!

Woot (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 7 months ago | (#47096025)

Cyborg Rock Lobster!

A Race Against Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096115)

The B-52 Stratofortress will live on.

The SR-72 will prevail, conquer and vanquish.
http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/features/2013/sr-72.html

21st century way of warfare (0)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 7 months ago | (#47096161)

It's an effort to bring the Cold War era heavy bomber into the 21st century way of warfare

You mean, make it hackable?

B-52? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096217)

reminds me of the band with Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson, and Fred Schneider.

but seriously, I didn't know that the plane is still flying. I thought the B-2 stealth bomber and B-1B Lancer took over the B-52's job.

LAN party in a Stratofortress? (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | about 7 months ago | (#47096241)

Let's play Global Thermonuclear War.

Windows (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096313)

And it uses Windows too!

Nooooo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096321)

Don't network them, they are the only cylon immune hardware we have left...

Doctor Strangelove lives! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096363)

Interesting that the aircraft has outlived all of the actors and the director of that fantastic movie.

Re:Doctor Strangelove lives! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47097595)

James Earl Jones is still alive, idiot.

Scary to think about on 2 fronts (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | about 7 months ago | (#47096699)

There are a couple things that come to mind in regards to this upgrade.

1. These planes are older than the flight crews and maintenance staffs upkeeping them and flying them. Last ones entered service in the early 60's. Pushing 90 years old by the time of retirement! That's simply insane.
2. There are good and bad to upgrades like this. Yes, it makes you more efficient, but you lose the skills of being able to do it by hand. Also, old systems are damn near impossible to hack, unlike newer, shiny systems.

Still fit for purpose (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47097535)

Another example is a DC-3 that took part in a search and rescue operation in Antarctica a few months ago. It was a situation where cost is not a consideration yet an airframe built in the 1930s was used because it was suitable for the job. That DC-3 has turboprops and has been cut in half then lengthened but every major structural part is over 70 years old. There's a few other DC-3s around.
As with the B52 the modes of failure are very well known now so maintainance is going over a checklist and the nasty surprises happened decades ago.

yay we can bomb people even better now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47096863)

citizens across the world rejoice

What about Col. Jack Ripper? (1)

msblack (191749) | about 7 months ago | (#47096871)

Will they be replacing those CRM-114 discriminators in order to prevent nuclear disaster?

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