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The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, nicknamed the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fella) has been in service with the US Air Force as a strategic nuclear bomber since 1955. Powered by eight engines, the B-52 saw significant service in Vietnam, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan as a conventional bomber. The current version, the B-52H is currently going through a program to re-engine the aircraft with eight modern Rolls-Royce jet engines which will allow the bomber to remain in service until 2050 and beyond, these aircraft will be known as the B-52J. Most B-52s in service are older than the crews that fly them and some have been flown by a father and son during their careers. It is highly likely the B-52 will be the first aircraft to be in constant military service for 100 years.
Of the 744 B-52s produced, there are still 72 aircraft in service with the USAF. The vast majority are based with the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB in North Dakota however a few are also based at Edwards AFB in California for test purposes. RAF Fairford regularly plays host to USAF bomber deployments which has often been B-52s from one of these bases.
The 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana will be providing a pair of B-52s for this year's Air Tattoo. One example will be on static display on Friday, Saturday and Sunday whilst a second will be performing flypasts over the weekend.
Photo Credit: Paul Morrison