16:55 GMT +319 July 2018
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    A US Air Force B-52 bomber

    B-52 Bomber: 'Big Ugly Fat Fellow' Likely to Lead US Fleet for Decades

    © AFP 2018 / Paul CROCK
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    The US Air Force's B-52 Stratofortress bombers, introduced in the 1950s, will likely continue to serve until at least 2040, the New York Times reported.

    In 1966, the Times reported that within nine years, the B-52 would be too old and would need to be retired. That plan never came to fruition primarily because attempts to build a replacement for the B-52 failed.

    Today, there is a B-52 pilot whose father and grandfather flew the plane, the Times reported.

    And while some upgrades have been implemented over the generations, much of the mammoth B-52 – often called the "Big Ugly Fat Fellow," or "BUFF," for short – remains noticeably antiquated.

    "It's like stepping back in time," Air Force Captain Lance Adsit, 28, said of the aircraft. "I love the B-52. But the fact that this is still flying is really insane."

    Of the planned replacements for the B-52, one was too radioactive; another frequently crashed;  yet another released toxic exhaust, the Times reported.

    There are plans to eventually replace the B-52 with the yet-to-be-designed Long Range Strike Bomber. However, the Times reported, some question whether such bombers are needed these days to fight "insurgent wars and stateless armies."

    More recently, the B-52 has been used mainly for "assurance and deterrence" missions. For example, Washington flew one of the 76 B-52 bombers over artificial islands constructed by Beijing in the South China Sea.

    "We conduct B-52 flights in international air space in that part of the world all the time," Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said at the time.

    Long-Range Strike Bomber, B-52, US Air Force, United States
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