For under the second time in U.S. Air Drive historical past, the service has introduced a B-52H Stratofortress bomber out of storage Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Drive Base in Arizona and delivered it to an operational unit. The plane, with the serial quantity 60-0034 and nicknamed Smart Man, touched down at Barksdale Air Drive Base in Louisiana earlier in the present day, the place it should be part of the 307th Bomb Wing, the one bomb wing within the Air Drive Reserve. Smart Man’s return comes virtually three years to the day after one other one of many bombers crashed and burned at Andersen Air Drive Base in Guam and brings the dimensions of the Air Drive’s operational B-52H fleet again to a complete of 76 plane, the utmost allowable quantity beneath the phrases of an arms management treaty with Russia.
U.S. Air Drive Colonel Robert Burgess, the commander of the 307th Bomb Wing’s 307th Operations Group, flew Smart Man, with the assistance of two further members of the unit, from Arizona to Lousiana on Might 14, 2019. The airplane arrived nonetheless carrying the “MT” tail code of plane assigned to Minot Air Drive Base in North Dakota, which it was carrying when the fifth Bomb Wing first despatched it to the Bone Yard in 2008. The bomber can also be in determined want of a brand new coat of paint and within the fall the airplane is scheduled to go to the depot at Tinker Air Drive Base in Oklahoma for a full overhaul.
“We’re excited in regards to the wing’s position in bringing this jet again into service,” Burgess instructed reporters after arriving at Barksdale. “Its return is a testomony to the ability of our Airmen in restoring the bomber for normal use within the Air Drive.”
The Air Drive solely revealed that it was within the means of “regenerating” Smart Man in April 2019, however it’s unclear if that is when the method truly started. The 309th Aerospace Upkeep and Regeneration Group (AMARG), which oversees the bone yard, has solely ever finished this as soon as earlier than and the final time it took 70 days. That B-52H, serial quantity 61-0007 and carrying the nickname Ghost Rider, returned to the lively obligation 2nd Bomb Wing, additionally located at Barksdale, in February 2015. That airplane had changed one other B-52H that ended up being totaled after hearth broke out throughout routine upkeep the 12 months earlier than.
Below the phrases of the New Strategic Arms Discount Treaty, or New START, with Russia, the USA is restricted to a hard and fast variety of deployed nuclear weapon programs as outlined beneath the phrases of that deal. You may learn extra about these particulars right here, however the mixture of programs the U.S. navy has elected to area to be able to protect its Nuclear Triad contains 76 B-52H bombers. America can’t, by treaty, have any extra of those plane operational with out sacrificing one thing else.
The arms management deal does, nonetheless, permit for a lot of non-deployed programs to stay in storage, primarily, as is the case with Smart Man, to exchange losses. As of April 15, 2019, the Air Drive nonetheless had a dozen different B-52Hs in what is called Kind 1000 storage, which is the readiest state for an inactive plane.
However even planes in Kind 1000 storage want important work to get them flying once more. In Ghost Rider’s case, personnel on the bone yard had beforehand ripped out its GPS receiver and different navigation tools to be used on different operational B-52s, so these programs needed to get changed.
Ghost Rider additionally wanted a considerable overhaul to convey the bomber as much as the most recent baseline configuration, because it had missed numerous upgrades whereas in storage. Smart Man will want the identical remedy, having been out of service for greater than a decade.
When the fifth Bomb Wing despatched Smart Man to the Bone Yard in 2008, it appears that evidently the personnel from the unit could have a nagging feeling at the back of their minds that the bomber won’t be finished with its service simply but. Somebody left a word on a panel contained in the airplane that reads as follows:
“AMARG, this 60-034, a Chilly Warrior that stood sentinel over America from the darkest days of the Chilly Warfare to the worldwide struggle towards terror. Take excellent care of her… Till we’d like her once more.”
It could be of curiosity to notice that the “60” in Smart Man’s serial quantity is the fiscal 12 months wherein the Air Drive purchased her. The final of the B-52Hs rolled off Boeing’s manufacturing line in 1962, placing the airplane within the latter half of the BUFF’s manufacturing run. The service expects to proceed flying these bombers by means of no less than 2050—and doubtless past—and has plans to make much more important upgrades to them within the coming years, together with the addition of recent engines and radars.
It seems that Smart Man has certainly refused to fade away and the bomber now appears set to return to service and keep there for many years to come back.
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