Picture of a B-52H aircraft in flight over water.


In its sixth decade of operational service, the B-52 continues to be a major contributor to U.S. and allied forces.

Serving the U.S. for Decades to Come

The Boeing B-52 primarily provides the United States with immediate nuclear and conventional global strike capability. The B-52 is the most combat capable bomber in the U.S. inventory. Due to its high mission-capable rate, large payload, long range, persistence and ability to employ both nuclear and conventional precision standoff weapons, the B-52 continues to be a critical contributor to the U.S. National Security Strategy.


B-52 Milestones

B-52 Technical Specifications

Primary Function Heavy bomber
Power plant 8 Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofan
Thrust Each engine up to 17,000 lbs
Wingspan 185 ft (56.4 m)
Length 159 ft, 4 in (48.5 m)
Height 40 ft, 8 in (12.4 m)
Weight Approximately 185,000 lbs (83,250 kg)
Max Takeoff Weight 488,000 lbs (219,600 kg)
Fuel Capacity 312,197 lbs
Payload 70,000 lbs (31,500 kg)
Speed 650 mph (Mach 0.86)
Range 8,800 mi (7,652 nautical miles)
Ceiling 50,000 ft (15,150 m)
Crew 5 (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer
Initial operating capability May 1961 (Current ‘H’ Model)
Armament Approximately 70,000 lbs (31,500 kg) mixed ordnance -- bombs, smart weapons, mines and missiles. Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles and Miniature Air Launched Decoy.

Feature Stories

B-52 program continues path toward radar modernization

B-52 program continues path toward radar modernization

October 22, 2020 in Defense

The preliminary design review is another step forward as the U.S. Air Force works to keep the B-52 relevant for missions until 2050 and beyond.

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A New Chapter: B-52 moves into the digital age

A New Chapter: B-52 moves into the digital age

August 2, 2020 in Defense

The last CONECT kit for the B-52 is delivered to the U.S. Air Force

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'Thirsty' for More

'Thirsty' for More

March 16, 2017 in Defense

Lt. Col. Steve Smith recorded his 10,000th flying hour in a B-52 Bomber, becoming the first pilot to reach that milestone since the Vietnam era.

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B-52 weapons bay

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January 21, 2015 in Defense

A recent upgrade transforms the weapons launcher in the B-52 weapons bay so it can deploy GPS-guided "smart" bombs for the first time.

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Staying CONECTed

May 19, 2014 in Defense

With Boeing’s assistance, the U.S. Air Force delivers the first B-52 equipped with Combat Network Communications Technology, keeping pace with the evolving digital battle space.

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B-52 Customer

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Originally designed as an intercontinental, high-altitude nuclear bomber, the B-52’s operational capabilities have advanced over the years to meet changing national defense needs. Boeing built 744 B-52s and delivered the last, a B-52H, in October 1962. Only the H model is still in the Air Force inventory; it is assigned to Air Force Global Strike Command.

    B-52 Quick Facts

    • The B-52’s 185-foot wingspan is too wide to take off or land in a crossing using traditional flying techniques.
    • Boeing engineers designed special landing gear that could align with the runway allowing special takeoffs and landings.
    • The original design of the B-52 placed a gunner in the tail of the aircraft. Later designs moved the gunner forward with the rest of the crew.
    • After the Gulf War in the early 1990s, the gunner position and defensive machine guns were eliminated.
    • U.S. Air Force engineering studies suggest that the lifespan of the B-52 could extend beyond 2040.