For two years, B-52s took the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria and pounding targets in Afghanistan with the help of their new smart bomb racks. In total, the forward-deployed bomber force based at Al Udeid in Qatar flew some 1,850 sorties and dropped around 12,000 weapons on enemy targets. During their stay, they beat the B-1B's record of 761 consecutive missions without a maintenance cancellation by 73 missions, for a total of 834.
The B-52, more lovingly known as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker/Fellow), officially flew its last mission in the Middle East on April 7th, 2018, with the B-1B taking up station once again in the theater. But we are still getting some awesome imagery from the B-52's historic deployment, like this 360 video of a BUFF crew recovering at sandy Al Udeid Air Base.
Here is a direct link to the facebook video if it does not pop up below.
The B-52 has some very unique flying characteristics. It can climb with its nose depressed below the horizon, and its big slab-sided fuselage and vertical tail make it a giant sail during cross-wind landings. But Boeing engineers built-in an ingenious solution to alleviate the B-52's cross-wind woes—it's gear can be locked inline with the runway's heading, allowing for crews to 'crab' the jet into the wind all the way to touchdown.
You can read more about the B-52's unique landing abilities in this past article of mine. Regardless, the video is a great showcase of the how 'hands-on' a B-52 landing is even in relatively benign conditions. Watch the pilot's control inputs as the big bomber floats down towards the runway. Also of note all the info written in grease pen on the cockpit windows, and during rollout, it appears that the crew quickly installs safeties on their ejection seats.
The venerable B-52 is going to be around for a long, long time. Current USAF plans have pushed the bomber's service out to at least mid-century. Now that it is finally going to get new engines, Boeing's masterpiece of mayhem will be more capable than ever before and could very well end up serving well past its centennial of operations.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com