Edwards AFB Flight Test Nation 2009
Bombers in USAF service today

The B-1B Lancer (Bone), B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber and the B-52H Stratofortress (BUFF) all flew as part of the show at the Edwards show. They also flew as part of the test flight pass in review in formation. These three aircraft perform the heavy bombing missions for the US and part of the long range bomber force. 

The original B-1 design goes back to 1960 and was planned to replace the B-52 in active service. The B-1B came into service with the USAF in 1986. Interestingly, when President Carter signed the legislation that cancelled the B-1A program, he also signed to approve the new ATB program. The Advanced Techology Bomber (ATB) program would lead to the development of the B-2 Spirit.

President Reagan restarted the B-1 program while continuing funding for the ATB program. Lockheed/Rockwell and Northrop/Boeing competed for a new bomber under the project codenamed "Aurora". The Northrop/Boeing design won out and the B-2 was displayed to the public for the first time on November 22, 1988. The original contract for the B-2 was 132 aircraft. It was later scaled back several times and today 20 of the 21 on the contract are flying today.

The B-52 Stratofortress, or BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow), as the crews affectionately refer to it, ahs been in service the longest of the three. The contract bid for the B-52 was won in 1946! After several design changes, the B-52's first flight was April 15, 1952, flown by "Tex" Johnston. The B-52 replaced the Convair B-36 Peacemaker. The B-52 has served in just about every conflict the US has been involved with since Vietnam. Carrying up to 70,000 lbs. of ordinance, the B-52 is an effective heavy bomber that will continue in US service for many more years to come.

Flight Test Nation 2009 Index


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