Have you heard of a shadow weapon in use a century after its manufacture, yes the American B-52 bomber is close to achieving that.
The American B-52 bomber, which the United States decided to send recently to the Middle East as a warning message to Iran, entered service in 1955, meaning 66 years ago, and the US Air Force is confident that the B-52s will remain airworthy until 2025 and perhaps longer until 2040 or the fifth decade of The twenty-first century, that is, it may continue to fly and bomb for 100 years, or a century, less or more.
But how can a warplane fly for such a long period despite the entry of two newer bombers into American service, and what is the secret of the strength and features of the American B-52 bomber that makes it passive for ages and continues in service all this time, so that it is expected to continue after the retirement of the newer bombers, B1 WPI 2.
Could the American B-52 bomber, which dates not far from World War II, represent a real threat to a country like Iran that has the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system?
Below the speed of sound
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, commonly known as the B-52, is a US long-range, hypersonic, jet-powered strategic bomber.
The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades and is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32 tons) of weapons and has a typical combat range of over 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling. .
The B-52 heavy bomber was developed in the 1950s and has been a mainstay of the US Air Force for 64 years.
The American B-52 bomber served in Vietnam, Desert Storm and the war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and was the cornerstone of American nuclear deterrence during the Cold War for decades.
While the launcher was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons (nuclear bombs) and to carry out the large bombardment operation called (the fire carpet), it has reached the degree of operation and adaptation to the extent that it is used today to bomb Taliban and ISIS hideouts with smart weapons and small munitions that try to avoid civilians who live in the vicinity.
This is thanks to the B-52’s robust and conservative design, which allowed for greater stress tolerance compared to high-performance aircraft.
Also because the US Air Force has invested billions of dollars in maintaining and modernizing the B-52 aircraft.
American B-52 bomber wars
During the Vietnam War, the B-52 bomber presented its most spectacular saga and also carried out its worst crimes, and suffered its worst tragedies.
During this war, the US Air Force lost 31 B-52s, but it was the American strike force that carried out attacks in the manner of a carpet of fire that did not distinguish between targets and which killed large numbers of Vietnamese, and also shot down a number of combat aircraft, which is not easy for a launcher Heavy.
B-52 bombers were also an important part of Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991.
The American B-52 bomber during this war achieved a record for the longest combat mission on January 16, 1991, when B-52G aircraft flew from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, USA, then refueled in the air en route, hit targets in Iraq, and returned to their base A 35-hour, 14,000-mile (23,000 km) round-trip flight, breaking the record held by the RAF Vulcan bomber in 1982.
The B-52 took part in the Afghanistan War in 2001, providing the ability to fly high over the battlefield and provide close air support through the use of precision-guided munitions, a mission that was previously limited to combat aircraft and ground attack aircraft.
The basic design of the B-52 evolved from an aircraft capable of dropping bombs from a height of 30,000 feet to an aircraft that could fire long-range cruise missiles and smart munitions for use in most types of military operations.
Can you get past the S-300 missiles that Iran has?
The B-52s were designed as a long-range bomber capable of flying at high altitudes to penetrate the vast Soviet skies protected by dense air defenses.
And this was at a time when altitude represented a way to protect these huge, inflexible aircraft, because missiles were not reaching them.
But that time is over, and missiles have reached very high altitudes, and on the contrary, bombing tactics have relied on aircraft flying at low altitudes to confuse radars and anti-aircraft missile systems.
Here a question arises: Can these antique aircraft from the post-World War II period penetrate Iranian defenses, especially since Iran has a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft and ballistic missile system, which is a relatively modern system?
The US B-52 as a classic bomber cannot penetrate enemy air defenses. Therefore, it needs a long-range missile to carry out strikes in the airspace of a country protected by air defense systems, (unlike the case in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, where it operates freely in the absence of such defenses).
The version, the B-52H is capable of carrying some missile systems, including AGM-86A air-launched cruise missiles (1,500-mile range), AGM-84 Harpoon (77-mile range), and AGM-86C conventional air-launched cruise missiles. (With a range of 1,500 miles) for a full range of strikes, according to Airforce Technology.
A total of 744 B-52s were built, and the last B-52H was delivered in October 1962. It is the only version still in use by the US Air Force.
Assessments have been made of the potential for confrontation between the B52 and the House of the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, which is a development of the S-300 system that Iran has.
The Russians say that the range of the S-400 system is about 248 miles, but a Swedish analysis shows that the actual range of the most prominent S-400 versions is in fact only 90-125 miles, and the range of the S-400 in the authors’ view may be very shorter in the face of flying missiles. Low-altitude launcher from the B-52.
In its current configuration the S-400 system should primarily be considered a threat to large, high-value aircraft such as AWACS or transport aircraft at medium to high altitudes, at a range of 125-155 miles.
In contrast, the effective range against agile combat aircraft and cruise missiles operating at low altitudes can reach 12-20 miles.
Moreover, despite its complexity, the S-400 battery relies on a single engagement radar and has a limited number of firing platforms. It is therefore vulnerable to munitions targeting engagement radar. If the 40N6 missile is operated against B-52s via the Internet, its technical range of 248 miles cannot be effectively exploited against targets below approximately 3,000 meters unless target data is provided and updated during the missile’s flight by airborne or forward radars.
It can be seen that we are talking about the more advanced S-400 system than the S-300 and we are talking about a supposed battle between America and Russia, and therefore Iran’s defense capabilities will be much less than Russia in facing the possibility of B-52s launching cruise missiles against its territory.
Indeed, the reality is that the Americans are preparing the B-52s to be a heavy hand for them in the face of China, as it has advantages in the face of the yellow genie despite its old.
In the face of China
The fully modernized B-52 bomber, in combination with the new LRS-B long range bomber, will equip the US Air Force with powerful arms against Russia and China.
Oddly, it is the significant increase in the military capabilities of both Russia and China that makes the B-52 aircraft attractive again to the US Air Force.
China’s pursuit of a comprehensive denial of access capability (preventing US weapons from reaching mainland China) has not only threatened US air operations in the region, but also US air bases in Asia.
China has more than sixty military airfields in the four military regions closest to Japan and Korea, some of which are reinforced according to standards that no American base has ever achieved, compared to six US combat bases in Japan and Korea.
All US combat bases are subject to the possibility of a crushing attack with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and combat aviation from a country that acquires more missiles, more aircraft, and the ability to rapidly and overwhelmingly mass bombardment against very few fixed American targets.
Besides heavy investment in deadly ship missiles, including the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile ((the first of its kind), today Beijing has the potential to make it difficult for the United States to operate American aircraft or surface fighters in China’s front yard.
In light of the threats to the US bases in Japan and Korea, the extremely long range of the B-52 bombers allows them to be launched from US or Australian territories and to conduct effective operations from a distance, from bases out of reach of ballistic missile attacks and surface-launched cruise missiles.
Its heavy payload means that the B-52 can do multiple fighter jets, and long flight times mean that the bomber plane can effectively monitor large areas of the ocean.
The ability to fly over long distances for hours is very useful for patrolling – and intercepting – large bodies of water in the seas surrounding China.
The review is its first task
It is noteworthy that the most prominent role of the B-52 bomber appears in its current mission against Iran, which is the nuclear show.
Nobody actually wants to use nuclear weapons – the hope is that they will dissuade nations from aggressive courses of action.
One report recommends that the US Air Force retain its nuclear weapons capabilities primarily on the grounds that it is a more powerful means of sending a more effective, eloquent, and clear threat message than other methods in the nuclear triad.
Ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines are also effective means of launching nuclear warheads, but these weapons cannot be boasted as effective as the B-52 bomber.
The US B-52 bomber is a very visual means of projecting power, according to The Diplomat Asia report.
In times of crisis, America’s sending of B-52 bombers is a clear threatening message to adversaries.
So you can see from time to time reports of B-52s flying over the airspace claimed by China over the South China Sea or flying near North Korea after a nuclear test.
The prestige B52 actually serves the political purpose better, and it plays that role in the Middle East.