Despite being shot down in the Vietnam War, thanks to upgrades and reasonable tactics, the B-52 is still considered a flying fortress and a symbol of US air power
Even in terms of performance and economy, the old B-52 is superior to both the B-2 Spirit and B-1B Lancer stealth bombers. While the B-1B and B-2 are already planned to be replaced by the US, the B-52 will at least remain in service until 2040, which is nearly 100 years since it first flew. The upgrade plan, named 1760, will allow the B-52 to carry eight new J-series bombs, in addition to a number of new weapon hardpoints. Thus, with the latest upgrade package, the weapon load of a B-52H will reach nearly 50 tons, far surpassing its rival Tu-160 with 40 tons.
Compared to the early versions during the Vietnam War, the B-52Hs have been upgraded avionics with powerful jammers. In addition, it also has a powerful escort aircraft, including stealth fighters. Fighters with superior combat capabilities will take on the role of escort against enemy fighters. Precision guidance devices make it possible for the B-52H to hit targets with great destruction.
Carpet bombing has become the trademark of the B-52 Stratofortress, but it also shows the brutality of American-led wars. The B-52 can drop carpet bombs with a total bomb weight of up to 30 tons, and will become even more formidable after being upgraded.
In addition to the huge number of bombs, the B-52 will also be upgraded to carry long-range cruise missiles. Each B-52H can carry up to 13 long-range cruise missiles, launched from thousands of kilometers away, far beyond the reach of air defense systems. This means that the B-52H can attack the enemy from a very long range without the need for a fighter escort nor the need for Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike first.
Therefore, despite being born for a long time, but thanks to changes in combat strategy and outstanding upgrade potential, the B-52 is still the favorite effective weapon of the US military. When refueled in the air, the B-52Hs can take off from the US and hit any target in the world. This was demonstrated during the war in Afghanistan in 2001, B-52Hs took off from bases in the US, hit targets in Afghanistan and then flew back to the US.
Currently, under the agreement with Russia, the US is allowed to maintain 76 B-52Hs. The United States has produced a total of 744 B-52s, and today most of them are located in the aircraft cemetery in the Davis Monthan Desert, Arizona. There are still quite a few of them in a reusable state when needed.