Air Force Not Preparing to Put B-52s Back on Alert

Air Force officials say the service is not planning to put its B-52s back on alert as some media outlets previously reported. Here, several B-52H Stratofortress bombers sit on the flightline at Barksdale AFB, La. Air Force photo by A1C Benjamin Gonsier.

The Air Force says it is not making preparations to place its B-52 bombers on 24-hour nuclear alert, something the service has not done since the Cold War.

Defense One reported on Sunday that such a move was underway and pointed to “various improvements” that have been made recently at Barksdale AFB, La., including the refurbishment of “an old concrete building” where bomber crews on alert were housed during the Cold War.

“We are not planning or preparing to put B-52s back on alert,” service spokesperson Capt. Mark Graff told Air Force Magazine in an emailed statement. “Preparations like updating base infrastructure,” including “updating alert facilities, munitions storage, dining facilities” did not indicate plans to change the status of the base’s B-52s, Graff added.

“Conducting exercises, and modernizing equipment are necessary to maintain a baseline level of readiness,” Graff said. “We do this routinely as part of our organize, train, and equip mission so our forces are ready to respond when called upon.”

Some of the updates at Barksdale are aimed at housing crews that operate the E-4B and E-6B command and control aircraft, Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, USAF director of public affairs, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Monday. Those aircraft are currently on alert, Thomas said, and the same facilities that house those alert crews could also be used to house B-52 alert crews in the future. But Thomas reiterated that there are no plans currently to place B-52 crews back on alert.