11 photos of the legendary B-52 Stratofortress bomber, which just returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan

US Air Force

The US Air Force recently announced that the last squadrons of the legendary B-52 Stratofortress have returned home after concluding operations against ISIS in the Middle East and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Following two years of B-52 squadrons employing nearly 12,000 weapons on Islamic State and Taliban targets across U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, the venerable BUFF flew its last mission April 7 before turning over the bomber duty reins to the newly arrived B-1B Lancer,” an Air Force spokesman said in a statement.

The bomber, nicknamed the BUFF for “Big Ugly Fat Fellow,” has been in service with the Air Force for 63 years, the last two of which it served as US Central Command’s go-to bomber.

Here’s what it can do:


Developed by Boeing, the B-52 made its maiden flight in 1952, and costs about $US84 million each.

NASAAn X-15 rocket-powered aircraft is launched from under the wing of an NB-52A Stratofortress in 1959.

Boeing is one of the largest defence contractors and political donors in the US.

Source: US Air Force


The bomber can conduct attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air, and maritime missions.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force


It’s powered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines, each providing the bomber with 17,000 pounds of thrust.

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg SteeleA B-52H Stratofortress takes off after being taken out of long-term storage Feb. 13, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Source: US Air Force


It has a maximum speed of 650 miles per hour, a maximum range of 8,800 miles, and a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force


It also has a five-person crew — an aircraft commander, a pilot, and …

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force


a radar navigator, a electronic warfare officer, and a navigator.

US Air ForceTwo airmen navigate the B-52 during a training mission in 2013.

Source: US Air Force


The B-52 has a payload of about 70,000 pounds. It’s able to carry a variety of bombs, mines, and missiles. It can even carry air-launched cruise missiles.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force


It’s able to drop and launch the widest variety of weapons of any US aircraft, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles, and joint direct attack munitions.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force


In February, the B-52 dropped a record number of smart bombs on the Taliban in Afghanistan, unloading 24 precision-guided munitions in a 96-hour period.

US Air Force

The US announced in November 2017 that it would begin targeting the Taliban’s revenue sources, much of which is opium and heroin, with airstrikes. But the new strategy has been criticised by some as a game of “whack-a-mole” since the Taliban can reportedly rebuild their drug labs in just a few days.

Source: Business Insider


The US currently has 58 active and 18 reserve B-52s.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force


And plans to keep the bomber flying until at least 2040.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.