B-52 reproduction of Afghanistan
In order to stop the offensive of the Taliban in Afghanistan, US President Biden ordered the dispatch of B-52 strategic bombers and AC-130 gunboat aircraft to carry out large-scale air strikes on the 7th. After a year, the B-52 appeared again over Afghanistan. What makes the outside world curious is that this “master bomber” developed in the 1950s is still active in the modern battlefield and will even serve until the middle of this century.
Rush to Afghanistan to “reverse the war”
On the 8th local time, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Fouad Oman said on social media that U.S. B-52 bombers attacked Taliban forces in shibirgan, the capital of juzjan Province, resulting in heavy casualties. The US “business insider” website said on the 7th that since the US military had withdrawn from Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, these B-52 bombers took off from Qatar and rushed to Afghanistan to “reverse the war situation”.
Reuters said that the US military’s move comes at a time when the situation in Afghanistan is becoming more and more serious. With the withdrawal of foreign troops led by the United States, the Taliban continue to occupy important towns in Afghanistan. The use of bombers by the United States also highlights that the Afghan army still depends on the support of the United States. Although the Afghan government army has its own air force, it is still inseparable from U.S. air support. After the U.S. contractor left Afghanistan, the Afghan air force has run out of aircraft spare parts and lost a lot of trained technicians. At least seven Afghan pilots were killed by Taliban attacks, and other pilots were exhausted.
According to the website “business insider”, the B-52 bomber played a key role in overthrowing the Taliban regime at the end of 2001. Today, in addition to the B-52, the United States is still using the “God of death” UAV and AC-130 “ghost” gunboat aircraft to perform at least five flights a day.
Why is it always B-52?
The B-52 is the oldest model of the U.S. strategic bomber. The basic model has made its first flight as early as the 1950s. The first flight time of the currently used b-52h can also be traced back to 1960. In the Vietnam War in the 1960s, the B-52 was famous for its cruel carpet bombing. But why is the US air force still putting such old bombers into the battlefield in Afghanistan?
Zhang Xuefeng, a Chinese military expert, said that there is no difference in the effect of using the B-52 against the Taliban who basically do not have decent air defense weapons compared with the more advanced B-1B and B-2 bombers with better penetration ability. Different from the conventional bombs dropped during the Vietnam War, the B-52 usually uses the “jedam” joint attack bomb to carry out precision strikes in Afghanistan. In addition, the B-52 is deployed in Qatar. If it is only to combat the Taliban, rather than show off the U.S. military’s long-range bombing capability, it is more convenient to dispatch the B-52 nearby than take off the B-2 from home. In addition, B-52 is more economical than B-1B and B-2 in use cost.
On the other hand, compared with tactical fighters such as F-15 and F-16, the advantage of B-52 is also obvious. As a long-range, subsonic jet strategic bomber, the B-52 can carry up to 32 tons of ammunition. Therefore, it can strike dozens of targets at a time, greatly reducing the number of sorties. In contrast, the maximum bomb load of F-15E fighter is only 11 tons, and after taking off with full ammunition, the range is greatly affected. When fighter planes are dispatched to perform such tasks, they often have to send tankers to provide air refueling, which increases the organizational complexity of operations.
Of course, the deployment of strategic bombers such as the B-52 also has the disadvantage of inflexibility. To this end, the US air force sent AC-130 gunboat aircraft to cooperate. The aircraft can hover in lower airspace and easily support ground forces with large caliber artillery.
Will serve until “centenary”
According to Zhang Xuefeng, at present, the US Air Force also has 76 B-52 bombers, most of which were manufactured from 1961 to 1962. Although the b-52h is “old”, according to the plan of the U.S. air force, it will “survive” the “younger generation” of B-1B and B-2. According to the US defense budget act for fiscal year 2021, the US Air Force plans to retire 17 of the 62 B-1B bombers this year. The B-1B and B-2 will be decommissioned before the new b-21 stealth bomber enters service. At that time, the US Air Force will have a strange scene in which the “grandfather” B-52 and the “new generation” b-21 fly together.
Zhang Xuefeng said that the secret of maintaining the combat effectiveness of the b-52h lies in “continuous upgrading and improvement”. After its service, the b-52h has undergone several rounds of improvement, from the initial throwing of conventional bombs to carrying various missiles and guided bombs, and upgrading the electronic countermeasure system. The recently improved “1760 embedded weapon cabin” has increased the weapon payload of the b-52h by 66%, becoming “the bomber with the largest bomb load in history”. In addition, the b-52h can also carry agm-183a hypersonic missiles in the future.
In order to further extend the service life of the B-52, the United States also plans to replace it with a more advanced engine. According to the “defense No. 1” website, at present, each b-52h uses 8 P & W’s tf33 engines. In the future, it will be equipped with more fuel-efficient and more powerful engines to “let the b-52h serve until its centenary”.