Year of the B-52

Air Force Global Strike Command has declared 2012 the “Year of the B-52” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the last delivery of a Stratofortress to Minot AFB, N.D., and the 60th anniversary of the first test flight of the YB-52, said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, AFGSC commander. “This aircraft may be the most universally recognized symbol of American airpower, and its contributions to our national security through the Cold War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Iraqi Freedom, and Allied Force are remarkable,” wrote Kowalski in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel Wednesday. Kowalski said the venerable B-52 has sustainment issues that the service must address. The bomber needs an upgraded data link and voice communications “to facilitate net-centric warfare operations envisioned in the AirSea Battle concept,” he said. Its aging radar also will require replacement “within the next decade as sustainment costs grow and failure rates increase,” said Kowalski.