HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

B-52 Stratofortress

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions.

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions.

1950s -- The B-52 Stratofortress joined the  Air Force inventory in February 1955. It is still flying. (U.S. Air Force photo)

AF File Image

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald)

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald)

Mission
The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters). It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.

Features
In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations.
During Desert Storm, B-52s delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces. It is highly effective when used for ocean surveillance, and can assist the U.S. Navy in anti-ship and mine-laying operations. Two B-52s, in two hours, can monitor 140,000 square miles (364,000 square kilometers) of ocean surface.

All B-52s can be equipped with two electro-optical viewing sensors, a forward-looking infrared and advanced targeting pods to augment targeting, battle assessment, and flight safety, thus further improving its combat ability.

Pilots wear night vision goggles, or NVG, to enhance their vision during night operations. Night vision goggles provide greater safety during night operations by increasing the pilot's ability to visually clear terrain, to increase the peacetime and combat situational awareness of the aircrew and visually acquire other aircraft.

B-52s are currently upgrading from the Litening Advanced Targeting Pod to the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod.  Sniper pods provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilized surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces.  The pod’s advanced targeting and image processing technology significantly increases the combat effectiveness of the B-52 during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons).

The use of aerial refueling gives the B-52 a range limited only by crew endurance. It has an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles (14,080 kilometers).

Background
For more than 40 years, B-52 Stratofortresses have been the backbone of the manned strategic bomber force for the United States. The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. This includes gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions. Updated with modern technology the B-52 will be capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of our nation's defenses. Current engineering analyses show the B-52's life span to extend beyond the year 2040.

The B-52A first flew in 1954, and the B model entered service in 1955. A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962. The first of 102 B-52H's was delivered to Strategic Air Command in May 1961. The H model can carry up to 20 air launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile that was launched in several contingencies during the 1990s, starting with Operation Desert Storm and culminating with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The aircraft's flexibility was evident in Operation Desert Storm and again during Operation Allied Force. B-52s struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq's Republican Guard. On Sept. 2 to 3, 1996, two B-52Hs struck Baghdad power stations and communications facilities with 13 AGM-86C conventional air launched cruise missiles, or CALCMs, as part of Operation Desert Strike. At that time, this was the longest distance flown for a combat mission involving a 34-hour, 16,000 statute mile round trip from Barksdale Air Force Base,Louisiana.

In 2001, the B-52 contributed to the success in Operation Enduring Freedom, providing the ability to loiter high above the battlefield and provide close air support through the use of precision guided munitions.

The B-52 also played a role in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 21, 2003, B-52Hs launched approximately 100 CALCMs during a night mission.

Only the H model is still in the Air Force inventory and is assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North, Dakota, and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, which fall under Air Force Global Strike Command. The aircraft is also assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB.


General characteristics
Primary function: heavy bomber
Contractor: Boeing Military Airplane Co.
Power plant: eight Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofan
Thrust: each engine up to 17,000 pounds
Wingspan: 185 feet (56.4 meters)
Length: 159 feet, 4 inches (48.5 meters)
Height: 40 feet, 8 inches (12.4 meters)
Weight: Approximately 185,000 pounds (83,250 kilograms)
Maximum takeoff weight: 488,000 pounds (219,600 kilograms)
Fuel capacity: 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms)
Payload: 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms)
Speed: 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.84)
Range: 8,800 miles (7,652 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters)
Armament: approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms) mixed ordnance: bombs, mines and missiles. (Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles)
Crew: five (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
Unit cost: $84 million (fiscal 2012 constant dollars)
Initial operating capability: April 1952
Inventory: active force, 58; ANG, 0; Reserve, 18

(Current as of December 2015)


Point of contact
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs Office
Afgsc.paworkflow@us.af.mil; 318-456-1305 or DSN 781-1305
245 Davis Ave E Room 198, Barksdale AFB, LA., 71110

Engage

Facebook Twitter
DYK: Aircraft have lifespans! Like humans, they require check-ups in the form of maintenance inspections to prolong their ability to fly. These "checks" prevent in-flight system failures which ultimately protects aircrew and passengers. Learn more from the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on what it takes to correct issues so aircraft can stay airborne.
WATCH: United States Air Force pilots talk about the importance of Exercise Saber Strike 18 as they refuel over the Baltic Sea on June 18, 2018. Saber Strike 18 is a long-standing training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and our allies. The training focused on improving land and air operational capabilities between the U.S. and our NATO allies. (U.S. Air National Guard video by: Master Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)
Check out some shots from yesterday's All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game in Washington, D.C. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals U.S. Army
Air Force and U.S. Army coed softball teams render military honors during the playing of the National Anthem during the All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2018. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals
Great way to lead by example!
The United States Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. To help solve the challenge, the Aircrew Crisis Task Force was recently created to provide strategic direction and actionable recommendations to senior leaders on how to solve the aircrew manning crisis. FULL STORY: https://go.usa.gov/xUb3z
Your United States Air Force news: ✓ A B-52 crew assists in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam ✓ An Afghan pilot class graduates in the Czech Republic ✓ The Air Force is using innovative approaches to training pilots to make the process faster and more efficient
Now that’s how weathermen work! Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly weather reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Chris and Tropical Storm Beryl. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1569944/hurricane-hunters-fly-tropical-storms-beryl-chris/
The F-22 Raptor's combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. Maintaining these aircraft can involve a bit of a learning curve. Airmen at KadenaAirBase use past technology to help learn how to work with the undefeated Raptor. FULL STORY: http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1567295/hard-to-raptor-head-around/
Help us out! Can you caption this photo?
The B-52 Stratofortress has sniper pods that provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilize surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Air Force Global Strike Command crew members on a B-52 were able to spot a historic Pacific Island style canoe so that the U.S. Coast Guard could rescue the six passengers!
For the past 60 years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has continually helped us maintain a technological edge against our advarsaries. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.
SOUND ON! Celebrate freedom with the sound of freedom! Happy Independence Day!
History in the making! A flight & mission crew comprised almost exclusively of #Airmen from the reserve components… https://t.co/hloFiRArFn
#Innovative 1st Reconnaissance Squadron training @9thRW provides #RQ4 student #pilots valuable flying experience.… https://t.co/KH2snQvg81
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: We're making progress toward revitalizing squadrons, but we'll keep swinging away at this together -- by focusing on t…
#USAF, @USArmy & @USNavy #cyber techs come together for Cyber Combat Support Training during exercise Patriot Warri… https://t.co/64Ua7jJrSr
.@CivilAirPatrol cadets sprung into action to rescue man from a rapidly sinking vehicle! Read about their life-savi… https://t.co/uUbGVuzmA2
#ICYMI: #CMSAF Wright discussed ongoing & upcoming quality of life and resiliency initiatives across the force.… https://t.co/9Q7t4wUKoj
RT @AirmanMagazine: @usairforce News: ✔️ ■ Falcon rockets are being considered to deliver cargo ■ Security Forces Airmen will once again…
Happy Birthday @DeptofDefense! 69 years strong!! https://t.co/2doEtah2jY
What's your favorite aircraft? This junior #Airman's is the one that carries the gas. @RAFMildenhall.… https://t.co/6mW2LbYJLz
.@PeteAFB #Airmen practice the landmine trunk rotation exercise in preparation for their #AlphaWarrior certificati… https://t.co/2iyG7XexSF
We deploy with our @USAFReserve and @AirNatlGuard #TotalForce family so why not train with them also.… https://t.co/J0kneAxJeR
The #family that flies together fights together! https://t.co/CQCgSdS227 https://t.co/fHig7BfGcj
More than 350 people are contributing to the firefighting efforts at #SheepCreek. 102 of them are members of the… https://t.co/mWBFEpDBh3
At the heart of the #AirForce is the squadron — our foundational #warfighting unit. It's where culture resides,… https://t.co/9vrcm03got
RT @AirmanMagazine: More than 1500 service members have lost limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Over the last 20 yrs th…
To serve with love beyond the uniform. Read how this @Travis60AMW #Airman continues to serve. #servicebeforeselfhttps://t.co/zNYGo8IiaP
Retired @NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson, met #Airmen from @SchrieverAFB and answered questions relating to her long-… https://t.co/sxKL2BnwKO
.@AirMobilityCmd looks to select more than 100 new pilots for USAF's first two #KC46 squadrons with applications du… https://t.co/0iJpm9LFsx
Leading the way! @EdwardsAFB's #STEM program inspires more than 3,100 young students in pursuing an education in on… https://t.co/7FOsihBCzI
A delegation from the Royal Thai air force visited #GoodfellowAFB, Texas, to learn more about the base's growing in… https://t.co/bQtYpBHfSv