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"Cart-Starts" make a quick launch for B-52s

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Whitney
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
Airmen assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have recently been showcasing the B-52 Stratofortress's ability to respond to threats at a moment's notice.

Throughout the month of December, Airmen from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., have been launching aircraft by a method known as cartridge starts, or "cart-starts."

During these launches, a small-controlled explosive is inserted into two of the eight engines located on the B-52.

"The charges basically jumpstart the engines, removing the need to bring out the aerospace ground equipment used on normal launches," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Poole, 36th EAMXS crew chief. "By removing these steps we increase the aircrafts startup time from more than an hour to less than 10 minutes."

Normally B-52s are supplied with an alternate energy source and an air supply to start the engines. Using the cart-start launch, an engine with a generator is started immediately, and the remaining engines are started while the aircraft taxis to the end of runway.

Although "cart-starts" allow the crew to get the B-52 airborne in less than 10 minutes, during training scenarios it actually takes longer than regular launches due to safety checks.

"During these scenarios we perform like we would in an emergency situation, the pilots run out of the vehicle to the aircraft, the maintainers load the cartridges as fast as they can, and we can get the bird airborne in less than 10 minutes," said Sergeant Poole.

"But what we really do is turn all the engines on and run through the pre-flight checks like a regular launch. Once we have checked all systems to make sure everything is working normally, we then shut everything down."

The cart-start system is a routine these Airmen have been through at Minot Air Force Base, but it is not a capability that Andersen sees very often.

"We are showcasing our ability to have these bombers up and in the air at a moment's notice, so that the guys at Pacific Command know what kind of capababilities this plane brings to the global deterrence mission here," Sergeant Poole said.


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