96 of 141 US Strategic Bombers Capable of Carrying Nuclear Weapons

96 of 141 US Strategic Bombers Capable of Carrying Nuclear Weapons
96 of 141 US Strategic Bombers Capable of Carrying Nuclear Weapons

International Military - Currently the US Air Force (USAF) has an operational strategic bomber trident, namely the B-52 Stratofortress, B-1B Lancer, and B-2 Spirit. Each aircraft was developed by Boeing, Rockwell (now Boeing), and Northrop Grumman.

The United States Air Force (USAF) has significantly reduced its number of strategic bombers. That is, there are only 76 B-52s, 45 B-1Bs, and 20 B-2 stealth bombers. The total number of US strategic bombers is gradually decreasing. However, the USAF still has the relatively largest bomber fleet on earth, which is smaller than during the Cold War.

Between 1952 and 1962, a total of 744 B-52 bombers were produced. The aircraft is continuously being modernized, which will extend its operational life to the middle of this century. The aircraft can carry 32 tons of weapons and has a combat radius of more than 14,000 km, not including aerial refueling which will increase its range.

Of the 744 produced, there are now only 76 bombers in service. One of them is used to test hypersonic missiles under development. Then in the late 1960s, to replace the B-52, the Rockwell company was selected to develop the B-1B Lancer supersonic aircraft, adopting a variable geometry wing.

The B-1 Lancer project was briefly canceled by 39th President Jimmy Carter, but President Ronald Reagan revived the program soon after his inauguration. Eventually four B-1A and one hundred B-1B prototypes were built. There are now only 45 B-1B bombers, also known as Bones.

It is likely that all B-1Bs will be abandoned when Northrop Grumman's B-21 Raider stealth bomber enters service.

As the US's most sophisticated bomber today is the B-2 Spirit which is touted as the most expensive military aircraft in aviation history, as disclosed by the Gagadget website (16/12).

The cost of this bomber in 1998 was about 2.1 billion US dollars, which included development costs. Not surprisingly, only 21 units were produced (one of which was destroyed in an accident).

Originally the USAF was going to acquire 132 aircraft, but eventually gave up. Besides the high cost, another reason is the collapse of the Soviet Union. The program was finally terminated by Congress in the early 1990s.

Combined, the USAF's current trident number of strategic bombers is 141, of which 96 can carry nuclear weapons. Even though they had been reduced a lot, the presence of the three was still a frightening deterrent to his opponent.

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