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185-Foot Wings Take B-52H Stratofortress to the Sky, Will Do So Until Bomber Turns 100

Try all you want, you will probably never come across an airborne beast as impressive, massive and capable as the B-52 Stratofortress. The Boeing-made bomber, which has been around since the early 1950s, is a mammoth of an airplane, one that has people wondering from time to time about how it can take to the sky.
B-52 Stratofortress taking off 11 photos
Photo: USAF/Airman 1st Class William Pugh
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Nicknamed Big Ugly Fat Fell (BUFF) because, well, that’s what it is, the Stratofortress comes with impressive numbers attached. The B-52H variant currently being flown, for instance, is 159 feet long (48 meters), and has a wingspan even larger than that, 185 feet (56 meters).

It is thanks to the large wing surface area and the eight Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, four on each wing, that the 185,000 pounds (over 83 tons) beast is capable of taking off, even when carrying 70,000 pounds (30 tons) of payload. And it does so with frightening ease, as seen in the most recent pic of it released by the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

The B-52H we have here is seen departing the runway of the Arkansas Aeroplex, during an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) exercise which took place earlier in January.

ACE is how the USAF calls its capacity of rapidly deploying aircraft, striking, and making use of available bases, aircraft refueling, and other such elements to throw the enemy off balance. In the case of the B-52, ACE means it can “land at a location, receive repairs, resupply and be back in the air before an adversary can pinpoint their location within a few hours.”

The bomber is an extremely important piece of machinery for the American military. Plans are to have it in the sky at least until the 2050s and this is why the Stratofortress is at the center of an upgrading effort conducted by those with interest in it.

If it does make it in operational service until the middle of this century, the B-52 will become the first aircraft to stay in the air for 100 years.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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