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The Military IT Technology

B-52 Gets First Full IT Upgrade Since 1961 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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B-52 Gets First Full IT Upgrade Since 1961

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  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Monday May 26, 2014 @07:35PM (#47095741) Journal

    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:I wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth Turbogeek ( 142348 ) on Monday May 26, 2014 @07:58PM (#47095849) Homepage

    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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nojayuk ( 567177 ) on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:21PM (#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. []

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

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @02:50AM (#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.
  • Re:I wonder (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @03:42AM (#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.

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