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
The nation’s most elite, #USAF #HonorGuard team, recently debuted their 2019 routine! (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemb… https://t.co/QxwpQdczUO
20 @AFSpecOpsCmd #Airmen will ruck from TX to FL in honor of Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, a #SpecialTacticshttps://t.co/bbti0C2Nlm
#Doyouevenlift? We do! @AirMobilityCmd #C17s recently delivered #hope on its way to the man-made humanitarian crisi… https://t.co/b1GicnXJ3l
.@AFWERX & @Techstars announce the 10 companies participating in #techaccelerator. See how they're working to solve… https://t.co/BCdoR4Cmmt
RT @DeptofDefense: These probably aren’t the FRIES you’re used to. @USArmy Special Forces operators practice their skills with the Fast Ro…
RT @AFEnergy: From installations, to propulsion, to maintenance, to research... engineers are critical to every part of the @usairforce mis…
.@HAFB #Airmen and the F-35 are a lethal combo during exercise Red Flag. For more about the exercise:… https://t.co/nc7F82hPI8
A B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from @Whiteman_AFB, is staged on the flightline @JointBasePHH, Jan. 30, 2019. (… https://t.co/SVPJe2AfGH
#USAF, @USMC & @USArmy air & ground force elements train together, strengthen skills in the field and sky. #Jointhttps://t.co/Arm1IXIaDy
#DYK: @DMAFB is one of seven #AirForce bases w/forward area refueling point capabilities, and there are only 63 qua… https://t.co/UI2SzoYdjA
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Anyone out there watch Super Bowl LIII? Well, @USNorthernCmd and NORAD fighter aircraft kept the airspace safe during t…
#AirForce formalizes policy on retention of non-deployable Airmen. https://t.co/O8yfj5acRt https://t.co/7t5ynNMgo2
It's a 2-way street! Find out how our #ProfessionalDevelopment Teams are a benefit to both mentor and mentee.… https://t.co/nxmtpZWnis
.@30thSpaceWing civilians use #innovation, reutilization, and team dynamics to save #USAF $1 billion.… https://t.co/TpFKYvaxay
.@374AirliftWing #Airmen are leading the way, learning how the M50 gas mask works w/other #USAF large-frame aircraf… https://t.co/n3cuh1OQnd
“Being self-aware and keeping my mental composure through very intense situations was key.” - Senior #Airman Jeffre… https://t.co/DM22RiBKNN
Citing health, safety concerns, @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein order commanders to conduct ‘100% review’ of al… https://t.co/DzvwOAQDvH
The 6 finalists of @SecAFOfficial’s #SparkTank initiative will showcase their ideas to #USAF senior leaders at… https://t.co/s9PUuNa3BN
The U.S. considers freedom to operate in #space a vital national interest, one that is fundamental to prosperity &… https://t.co/qcgciOUiTe