Take An Inside Look At The 60-Year Old Behemoth That Would Bomb Syria

The B-52 has seen several decades of active service and
was about to see some more service over Syria, according to reports from ABC.

Whether strikes on Syria go forward or not, the behemoth is already immortal, with both a hair-do and a rock band named after it.

From carrying nukes to cluster bombs, to drones, to space ships, the B-52 has a remarkable past and plays a incredible role in current military functions.

With an operational history that began in the 1950s, the bomber is slated to continue operations through 2040.

The B-52 was first tested as the X-52, an effort to create an inter-continental bomber that would not have to rely on foreign governments to land and refuel.

Source: Boeing

The first B-52A flew Aug. 5, 1954. It was nicknamed BUFF -- Big, Ugly, Fat Fellow.

In the years that followed, the B-52 broke a litany of aviation records.

In the 1950s, a B-52 cut the round-the-world speed record in half.

And January 1962, a B-52 flew 12,500 miles from Japan to Spain without stopping or refueling.

This flight alone broke 11 different speed and distance records.

Source: Boeing.

The Stratofortress was also involved in nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in the 1950s.

Source: Wired.

In the late 60s and early 70s, the behemoth jet was used to launch the D-21 reconnaissance drone.

The B-52 also dropped bombs in the Vietnam War.

Due to its adaptability and its ability to fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet, NASA has turned to the B-52 for a variety of tests.

Including the X-15, the fastest manned aircraft ever produced.

And the X-43, a variant of the Pegasus rocket that, at 7,000 miles per hour, is the world's fastest vehicle.

In 2006, NASA used a B-52 to test it's X-38 crew vehicle that could ferry astronauts from the International Space Station.

There's little doubt why the Air Force likes the B-52 -- it can carry 70,000 pounds of weapons.

It has eight engines, each generating 17,000 pounds of thrust.

While new bombers, like the stealth B-2 have come along, the B-52 has remained relevant due to its versatility.

It can fly close to the ground, or as high as 50,000 feet.

It can carry nuclear or conventional weapons. Cluster bombs or cruise missiles.

The B-52 carries a crew of six.

In addition to its ordinary range of nearly 9,000 miles, the B-52 can get gas in midair.

And with the aerial refueling, its range is limited only by the crew's endurance.

Recent upgrades to the B-52 platform will ensure it's a part of the Air Force arsenal through 2040.

Source: Air Force.

Now see how the B-52 helps make the US the most powerful military in the world.

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