Much in the style of the Rick Perry article last week, I found myself musing on something.
This week, I was wondering if the B-52, the flying fortress not the band, was still in service. With a little research I found out that it is. I dug deeper, and ended up writing this. Enjoy.
I thought the B-52 was out of service, but apparently it’s still going.
I think it’s a beautiful machine, but as a technical feat not as a weapon of war.
As a weapon of war it’s been devastating to human life, and I guess in that way it’s been very effective in living up to it’s design function.
However, I was thinking about money, and spending, and all that.
The reason I thought the B-52 was out of service is because I didn’t think that something that large and unwieldy would still be effective.
The B-52 [and I’m not military historian] was used to bomb large tracts of land with stupid bombs, or toe popper mines or what have you. Or it was used to carry around a couple of nukes a few miles from Soviet airspace just in case.
It’s a long range, high altitude, bomb platform. We don’t conduct that kind of warfare anymore, so you’d assume that the B-52 would be mothballed, and it largely has.
The rest of this piece [and my point] after the jump, feel free to click through.
There are 94 of the original 744 B-52’s on active service, or ready for active service and they don’t drop stupid bombs anymore; they’re fitted largely with “AGM-86” Air Launched Cruise Missiles.
These cruise missiles cost 1 million dollars a piece, and if they want to get the stealth upgrade you need to chip in an extra 160,000. The missiles weren’t just stuck on to the B-52 because they were lying around, they were designed for the B-52 so that it would survive as an effective weapon of war.
What’s my point? If it’s possible to keep even a small contingent of largely obsolete planes in active service due entirely to an expensive weapons upgrade then there’s plenty of fucking money apparently.
Nobody needs to go hungry when 1 bomb for an obsolete 1950’s plane could pay the US federal minimum wage for almost 70 people for a year.
There’s plenty of God damn money.
And anyone that would say that the B-52 creates jobs: the last one was built in 1963. The loading crews and maintenance crews are relatively small given how expensive this thing is to maintain, stock and operate. That and the flying crew for something this large doesn’t even need to be more than 5-7 guys.
The dollar to job ratio is not good.
Cross posted from my Google Plus Account.
Apparently, they remain in service as of January 8, 2013, as they are flying test bombing runs from Louisiana to the test range in the west desert of Utah. They dropped bombs last night (1-8-2013) at about 21:00 and are expected again tonight (1-9-2013). The bombs were heard from as far north as Tremonton, Utah and south to Utah county. Sweet dreams northern Utah.