Giant B-52 bombers are sometimes deployed over British airspace, but one was recently spotted on US roads.
The planes, sometimes deployed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, are hard to ignore as they fly overhead due to their size and the incredible noise they make.
And they were just as hard to ignore for American motorists who might have been forgiven for being confused when one of the huge bombers was spotted being hauled down the highway.
After nearly 1,500 miles and a month on the road, the B-52H Stratofortress nicknamed “Damage Inc. II” has arrived in Oklahoma and is ready to begin its new mission as a “mock-up” model to test new technologies.
Unlike its predecessors “Ghost Rider” and “Wise Guy”, which were also resurrected from the Arizona desert, this venerable aircraft will not join the active fleet, but still has an important mission to fulfill.
The fuselage arrived at the Boeing factory near Tinker Air Force Base on January 22 where it will be reassembled with the left wing. The aircraft will then serve as an integration model to test how well new technologies and current and future modifications will integrate with B-52 aircraft.
The aircraft, tail number 61-0009, was removed from storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group’s “boneyard” last spring and sent to the Pima Air & Space Museum where its wings, fuselage and horizontal stabilizer have been removed.
The right wing and horizontal stabilizer were flown to McFarland Research and Development in Wichita, Kansas, to support structural integrity research of the B-52H Aircraft Structural Integrity Program, or ASIP.
“We appreciate Boeing’s partnership in reviving Damage Inc. II in support of the B-52 modernization effort,” said Col. Louis Ruscetta, B-52 senior materiel manager with the directorate of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center bombers. “This is a great opportunity to de-risk some of our development efforts and open doors to bring other innovative capabilities to the fleet and keep this platform flying through 2050.”
According to Bill Pogorzelski, the project manager for the mockup effort, the Air Force funded the regeneration and transportation of the aircraft, while Boeing will provide the infrastructure to house the mockup to enable development activities and of testing.
The US Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range nuclear and conventional heavy bomber that can perform a wide variety of missions.
The bombers are capable of flying at high subsonic altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, the bomber can carry conventional precision-guided munitions with precision navigation capabilities around the world.
Affectionately known as BUFFs (Big Ugly Fat Fellas or a similar word starting with F) – these big beasts cost around $14 million each.
In active service since 1955, they were built to carry nuclear weapons during the Cold War.
Each aircraft can carry up to 70,000 pounds of weapons and has a combat range of approximately 8,800 miles without refueling.
They were used extensively in the Vietnam War and were used more recently in the Gulf Wars and last year in the aerial bombardment of Syria.