In the late 1950's the air force saw a need for a larger more capable bomber than the only recently introduced B-47. Boeing got the nod to create the B-52. The Startofortress has one of the longest service lives of any military aircraft flying, especially for combat proven types. In recent years its formidable load capacity has been revitalized by loading it with laser and GPS guided munitions and flying it in support of ground forces with the means to direct large salvoes of precision munitions. It will be around for at least the next 10 years, given no serious maintenance issues. Most, if not all, the nuclear capable aircraft ended their days in the last decade under giant guillotines, chopped up as part of the mutual force reduction pacts between the former USSR and the USA.
There is some though in Pentagon circles to creating the Stand-Off Jammer from updated B-52's. This is a controversial roll as the bomber is clearly not able to go near active air defenses anymore, yet does possess the electrical generation capability required to power the largest of jammers. Recent budget cuts have seen this project pushed back and downgraded, I would expect it to be eliminated soon.
At the time, still working. Seymour Johson AFB show 1990
At D-M awaiting the chop
This is a unique B-52, it was used to launch the Bell X-15 hypersonic research plane
Sitting above all others at the USAF Museum, Dayton OH. (Oct 2004)
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