On January 6th, 2020, the tensions between the United States and Iran continued to escalate when the United States decided to send B-52 bombers to help with tightness in Iran. To be more specific, the United States sent B-52 bombers to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is a British Indian Ocean Territory located near the Maldives and the Seychelles, south of India, and Sri Lanka. All of this means that they were not sent anywhere near Iran, but let’s put all of that aside. Many things can make someone scratch their head and ask, “is all of this really necessary?” It is people and questions like these that make it very important to keep in mind the B-52 bomber and what they are and what they are capable of.
The B-52 was designed by Boeing. This is the same Boeing that was associated with the 737 Max fiasco from 2019. The B-52 is also known as the Big Ugly Fat Fellow, or BUFF. The B-52 was first intended to be an atomic bomb carrier that could reach all the way to the Soviet Union. However, it has proven very useful to the United States because of its adaptability, and as such, has been used in many more events, sometimes in the 21st Century. The B-52 has a wingspan of 185 feet and is 160 feet long. It has eight jet engines, which allows it to reach a maximum speed of almost 600 miles per hour. It first carried six crew members with its only defense being in its tail in the form of a remotely controlled gun turret. However, the gun was taken out, and the crew was reduced to only five members in 1991. It is worth noting that this reduction occurred during the Persian Gulf War, and when the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh was attacked by Iraqi missiles.
Boeing first designed the B-52 bomber in 1948. This was a little bit after the Second World War, and at the time when the Soviet Union attempted to deliver supplies to Berlin but was stopped by Western forces, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The bombers first flew in 1952, towards the end of the Korean War as well as at the time that the Soviet Union was in deterioration from that war, and the bombers were first used for military purposes in 1955, in the days of the Warsaw Pact, and also the same year that Nikolay Bulganin replaces Georgi Malenkov as the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union.
The B-52 has been used all over the world. It was used in Asia during the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955-1975. It was also used in Afghanistan shortly after the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001. It has also been used to help ease tensions between the United States and North Korea, especially in the modern era.
The most common use for B-52s is for air support for American troops in the Middle East. It is here that they deploy precision-guided missiles. However, it still maintains its original mission of delivering nuclear weapons to their targets, most of which are in the middle east. It has been a jack-of-all-trades type of bomber for the Air Force since 1989 when the Berlin Wall finally collapsed.
As far as the future of the B-52, it is getting new engines, a new radar, new computers, new weapons, and more. The Air Force is making these changes so that its B-52 bombers can continue to operate as late as the 2050s.