A B-52H Stratofortress bomber of the US Air Force was “spotted” near the Romanian-Ukrainian border. The news was reported by the Bulgarian media Obektivno.bg, which tracked the flight of the plane through the flight tracking site flightradar24.
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The strategic nuclear weapons carrier took off from its Sigonella air base in Italy. A flight followed, crossing part of northwestern Greek airspace and entering Bulgaria. The bomber with registration number 60-0004 crossed the entire diagonal airspace of Bulgaria, flying from the south-west to the north-east of the country.
After leaving Bulgarian airspace, the B-52H entered Romania heading for one of the most eastern points of the country. Approaching the Romanian-Ukrainian border near the Ukrainian city of Odesa, the American bomber made several circular movements. Later, having completed its mission, aircraft 60-0004 returned to its Italian base.
Such actions by the US Air Force have been common in recent months, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that in March of this year, two American B-52 bombers performed two-hour training circular flights over a certain part of the Bulgarian airspace. However, the two bombers then took off from their Spanish air base in Seville. During their training flights over Bulgaria, one diverted and took a flight to Romania.
Although US Air Force bombers are not directly involved in hostilities in Ukraine, they are indirectly involved. For example, such flights can be used for strategic reconnaissance.
Equipped with advanced sensors and cameras, B-52H bombers can gather valuable intelligence by conducting surveillance missions. They can fly over the area of interest, capturing images and gathering data on enemy positions, movements, and infrastructure.
Another role that B-52H bombers can perform is electronic warfare. They can be equipped with electronic countermeasures, such as jamming devices, to disrupt enemy communications and radar systems.
By jamming enemy signals, B-52H bombers can impair the enemy’s ability to coordinate its forces and detect incoming threats.
About B-52 bomber
The B-52 H Stratofortress, a foremost embodiment of American military ingenuity, functions as a nuclear-powered strategic bomber. Having surpassed the mark of seven decades, this aeronautical marvel embarked on its initial flight in the spring month of April 1952. Three rotations around the Sun later, it was unveiled to the world and started serving duties within the revered branches of the US Air Force. The exclusivity of operation of this particular bomber type is enjoyed solely by the United States, with NASA holding a substantial stock aside from the military.
A robust 744 B-52 bombers, in myriad versions, were crafted before the cessation of their production in 1962. The B-52 H variant, currently gracing the Bulgarian skies, represents the final installment in the series developed by acclaimed manufacturer, Boeing. With this development, the era of crafting this bomber comes to a graceful close.
B-52 engine and avionics
An instrumental force that propels the B-52 H is the TF33-P-3 turbofan engine. Standing apart from its antecedent power systems, the TF33-P-3 brings to the fore enhanced cost-effectiveness and superior performance metrics. Some teething issues regarding reliability plagued the engine at its inception. By the time 1964 rolled around, however, these issues were suitably addressed and rectified.
Equipped with cutting-edge avionics, the B-52 H surpasses all previous models in terms of technological modernity. This variant takes a leap forward by integrating a wholly re-innovated fire control system, adding to its comprehensive suite of advancements.
B-52 armament and characteristics
Positioned at the tail end of this formidable airborne vehicle, an area traditionally allocated for defensive armament, the bomber was originally furnished with machine guns. However, in the ‘H’ model, this customary arsenal was substituted with a more potent alternative—a 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon. Interestingly, as the 1990s approached mid-decade, this cannon was relinquished.
The bomber recruits a quintet of personnel to operate it, each fulfilling a distinct role that comprises a pilot, co-pilot, weapon systems officer, navigator, and electronic warfare officer. The aircraft astoundingly takes flight at a maximum weight of 488,000 lbs [221,323 kg] with a wingspan that stretches 185 ft 0 in [56.4 m]. Propulsion is delivered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofans, each contributing a robust 17,000 lbf [76 kN] of thrust.
At full throttle, the bomber can achieve a maximum speed of 650 mph [1,050 km/h, 560 kn], although when cruising, it moves at a slightly slower pace of around 509 mph [819 km/h, 442 kn]. With a combat range encompassing an impressive 8,800 miles [14,200 km, 7,600 nmi], it forms a formidable facet of the airborne fleet. The B-52 is capable of carrying an extensive assortment of ordnance totaling approximately 70,000 pounds [32,000 kg], including bombs, mines, and missiles in a variety of configurations.
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