The first class to undergo Air Force Global Strike Command’s revamped B-52 initial qualification training arrived at Barksdale AFB, La., last week, according to a Feb. 19 release. The new syllabus, which was based on recommendations from the bomber force improvement program, is intended to better prepare B-52 aviators for 21st century warfare. Previously, B-52 IQT was one of the longest of any airframe in the Air Force inventory, but the new construct is shorter and more focused, USAF spokesman Maj. Phillip Ventura told Air Force Magazine. The new IQT program now offers a one-to-one student-to-instructor ratio, that not only improves the quality of instruction but also reduces the amount of time spent in training, states the release. “This will reduce the number of training sorties required, while also providing more effective B-52 combat aviators in the ends,” said Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, 2nd Bomb Wing chief of safety. In addition, operational squadrons are now responsible for training mission qualification tasks. “This product will greatly differ from what IQT previously created,” said Johnson. “We’re expecting aviators to be more proficient in the fundamental operation of the aircraft, a greater capacity for students to learn on their own after graduation, and more effectively use the time given at the field training unit.” (See also Revamping B-52 Training)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.