The Air Force last month completed the drawdown of the B-52H fleet to 76 aircraft, according to Air Combat Command. When this phaseout was conceived early last year, ACC planned to retire 18 H-model B-52s in the then-94 aircraft fleet. But with the subsequent crash of a B-52 last July off the coast of Guam, one of the airframes originally identified for retirement has been kept in service, ACC spokeswoman Elaine Belcher told the Daily Report yesterday. This means a total of 17 B-52s have been taken out of service and placed in recallable storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. Of these 17 airframes, nine came from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., six from the 2nd BW at Barksdale AFB, La., and two from Shepherd AFB, Tex., Belcher said. The one B-52 from Barksdale’s 93rd Bomb Squadron, an Air Force Reserve Command unit, that was slated for retirement, was held back to replace the 2nd BW asset lost in the Guam crash, she said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.