B-52H and its characteristics
The observed combat potential of the B-52H aircraft is due to several factors. The capabilities and capabilities of the aircraft are determined by its own tactical and technical characteristics, the characteristics of the weapons used, as well as the characteristics of the troop control system. First, we consider the potential of the main component of the aviation strike complex - the B-52H aircraft itself.
B-52H Stratofortress is the largest and heaviest combat aircraft of the US Air Force, which gives him certain advantages in the context of the main tasks. The bomber has a wing span of 56,4 m and a length of 48,5 m. The mass of an empty aircraft is determined at the level of 83,25 t, the maximum take-off weight is 220 t. The fuel tanks contain more than 181,6 thousand liters of fuel. Maximum combat load reaches 31,5 t.
The aircraft at a height capable of speeds of 1050 km / h, cruising speed is lower - 845 km / h. Practical ceiling - 15 km. The combat radius is determined in 7200 km, the fermentation range is 16230 km. The bomber is equipped with an intake refueling system neck. Such equipment allows to increase the duration and range to the required values. Thus, in the past, experiments were conducted in which B-52 remained in the air for 40-45 hours.
The bomber is equipped with the means of protection against interceptors and anti-aircraft missiles. Until the early nineties, all B-52H were equipped with feed sets with 20-mm automatic guns M61. In the future, such equipment was abandoned in favor of other means of protection. Currently, self-defense is carried out only by means of electronic warfare. It is planned to upgrade this equipment, aimed at obtaining characteristics that meet the requirements of the time.
Thus, in terms of basic tactical and technical characteristics, the B-52H is a very successful aircraft, capable of solving a wide range of combat missions in different conditions. Thus, a large carrying capacity, provided a favorable design of the airframe and the power plant, allows you to carry and use various weapons of all main classes. Systems are provided to protect the bomber in flight.
It should be noted that the main advantages of the B-52H as a platform for armaments are associated precisely with the flight-technical characteristics - first of all, with the “global” flight range. The combat radius without refueling, depending on the load, may exceed 7 thousand. Km. Participation in the operation of the aircraft tanker allows you to increase this parameter several times. In fact, B-52H, both independently and with the help of tankers, is able to work from any US air base and hit targets anywhere in the world. It is also possible to patrol in a given area in anticipation of an order to strike.
However, the high range is combined with subsonic speed. This in a known way slows down the transfer of aircraft to the advanced airbase, and also increases the time required for the attack. Accordingly, the speed of no more than 1000-1050 km / h in some situations may give advantages to the enemy, allowing him to respond to the threat in time.
B-52H Stratofortress is able to carry 31,5 t payload. For its placement is mainly used internal cargo compartment length 8,5 and width 1,8 m. The internal compartment is equipped with holders for weapons, and can also carry a turret launcher for missiles. Two pylons with three girder holders each are mounted under the center section. The configuration of the compartment and the pylons, as well as their equipment, are determined in accordance with the requirements of a specific combat departure.
All modifications of the B-52 bomber were able to use free-fall bombs of various types, including nuclear weapons. The maximum load then consists of a 51 bomb caliber to 500 pounds (227 kg). Larger and heavier items are shipped in smaller quantities. Until recently, the main special free-falling ammunition was the tactical fusion bombs B61 and B83 - the aircraft carried eight such items. However, several years ago, B-52H was excluded from the list of carriers of tactical nuclear weapons.
B-52H is a carrier of high-precision bomb and missile weapons. Bomber equipment is compatible with the JDAM family of guided bombs. Amount of such weapons on board depends on its model and, accordingly, size and caliber. JDAM bombs can be dropped from a distance of several tens of kilometers from the target and are aimed at it using satellite navigation. There is a bomb AGM-154 JSOW. The planning product has a mass of 497 kg and carries a high-explosive fragmentation warhead. The maximum reset range for the latest modifications reaches 130 km.
In service there are several modifications of the AGM-86 ALCM / CALCM cruise missile. Such missiles are able to fly at a range of 1,2-2,4 thousand km and carry a conventional or thermonuclear warhead, depending on the modification. In the cargo compartment can be installed 12 missiles AGM-158A / B JASSM / JASSM-ER. With the help of satellite navigation and infrared homing head, such missiles deliver penetrating high-explosive warhead to a range of 360 (JASSM) or 980 (JASSM-ER) kilometers.
B-52H bomber can also be a carrier of naval mines. In the cargo compartment can be installed similar products of different types with different characteristics. Of particular interest is the Quickstrike-ER mine currently being tested. This product is a standard QuickStreak mine with a JDAM-ER kit borrowed from planning bombs. Such a naval mine can be transported and dropped by any aircraft capable of using JDAM. After resetting, Quickstrike-ER plans to the specified area, falls into the water and begins searching for a target. Due to the emergence of such weapons, B-52H and other aircraft of the United States and other countries can more effectively solve the tasks of setting minefields.
The B-52H strategic bomber is capable of carrying various types of US aircraft, both new and outdated models. Such an aircraft can attack ground or surface objects of the enemy, using the most effective weapon in this situation. This continues the process of creating new designs, with the result that the nomenclature of B-52H ammunition changes regularly.
Even half a century after the start of service, the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bomber retains a fairly high combat potential and remains a serious threat. As part of the United States Air Force currently serves 70 such aircraft; A significant amount of equipment is in storage and can be returned to service after repair and modernization. Thus, the United States has a fairly large fleet of high-performance strategic bombers.
Based on the available data, we can draw some conclusions about the possibilities fleet B-52H aircraft, as well as related risks for third countries. These conclusions, in turn, make it possible to determine the main methods of protection against American strategic aviation.
The danger of B-52H for a likely US adversary is made up of three main factors. The first two are the flight performance of the aircraft and the possibility of their basing on airfields around the world. The Pentagon can transfer bombers from one base to another, collecting large groups of vehicles in dangerous areas. In addition, similar actions can be carried out with aircraft tankers, designed to ensure the work of bombers.
The high range of the flight allows you to reach the remote frontiers of the use of weapons, be on duty in the air, waiting for the crew to fly to the designated target or build an optimal route that takes into account the characteristics of the enemy’s air defense, the assigned weapons and the existing risks. If necessary, the flight range and combat radius can be increased with the help of tanker aircraft. In fact, with proper organization of combat work, B-52H can use any weapon anywhere in the world.
The current nomenclature of weapons makes the B-52H bomber a versatile means of striking. Depending on the task, it is possible to use free-fall and adjustable bombs, as well as guided missiles of various types. Some munitions are equipped with conventional warheads, others carry thermonuclear ones. B-52H is able to work as a carrier of marine mines.
It should be noted that B-52H in a real war will not work independently. They can accomplish the tasks of the second strike - after their low-profile attack aircraft of the first line, designed to destroy the air defense, fulfill their mission. In addition, long-range bombers will not be left without a fighter cover. Thus, the enemy will have to fight not with planes of one particular type, but with a developed mixed aviation group.
How to deal with it
With all its advantages, the B-52H Stratofortress is not invulnerable. The fact that the enemy has a number of defense systems and their correct use dramatically reduces the actual effectiveness of the bombers or eliminates their work altogether. In this context, we can recall the war in Vietnam. In the course of this conflict, the US Air Force lost X-NUMX aircraft B-17 as a result of enemy actions. The bulk of the downed aircraft fell on Soviet-made anti-aircraft missile systems. However, during their work in Southeast Asia, strategic bombers managed to complete almost 52 thousand aircraft sorties.
B-52H is not without flaws, and this circumstance should be used to its advantage. First of all, it should be noted that this aircraft was developed before the emergence and spread of stealth technology, which affects its visibility. The effective dispersion area of such an aircraft, according to various sources, reaches 100 sq.m. This means that any modern radar will notice such a bomber at its maximum range.
The aircraft can use the EW, but their effectiveness and impact on the situation depends on a number of factors. From the available data, it follows that the E-B-52H complex is capable of “muffling” old types of ground and airborne radars, but modern samples from leading manufacturers are protected from such effects. They are able to continue tracking the detected target.
Timely detection of a bomber gives plenty of time to react. Here it is necessary to use one of its minus - subsonic speed. The latter increases the flight time to the target or launch point and thereby simplifies the work of air defense. The anti-aircraft gunners have more time to attack the flying plane.
You can consider the situation with the hypothetical confrontation of the B-52H bomber and the C-400 SAM system. With the help of the 91H6E early warning radar, the SIRM is capable of detecting a very noticeable target at a distance of 570 km. Starting from the 400-380 km range, the anti-aircraft complex can use the 40H6E rocket to attack the identified target. The convergence of the aircraft and the rocket will continue for about 5 minutes. If the launch of the missile for any reason did not end with the defeat of the target, the SAMs will have enough time to re-attack, including with the use of other missiles.
The situation is the same with the interception of fighter bombers. Modern fighters, having received target designation from ground-based weapons, are able to reach the interception line and use their missiles in time. However, depending on the situation and methods of duty fighters may vary the time required to perform such tasks. For example, the duty of fighters on the intended route of the bomber dramatically reduces the reaction time, and also makes the interception line to a safe distance.
For obvious reasons, the B-52H Stratofortress bomber is most at risk when using free-fall bombs. In fact, such tasks can be solved only under conditions of complete suppression of enemy air defenses. If the anti-aircraft gunners continue to work, aviation will have to use other weapons that can be dropped from safe distances. These can be JDAM bombs or other tactical weapons with a range of at least several tens of kilometers. However, their use when operating a mid-range or long-range air defense train is associated with large risks.
B-52H aircraft with modern JASSM and CALCM cruise missiles pose a major threat. To launch such a weapon, an airplane does not even have to enter the enemy’s radar. Thus, air defense will have to detect and attack small complex missiles, while their carrier may go unnoticed.
B-52H can already master the "profession" of the director of sea minefields. Such threats can be fought in two ways. The first is the anti-aircraft defense of a possible mine installation area. The second is the development of mine-sweeping forces, including through the creation of new mine clearance systems. Working in these two directions will prevent the mines from being installed by creating a threat to their carriers or by intercepting an already dropped ammunition. Already placed at the position of mines can be neutralized by the relevant units of the fleet.
Tips for third countries
Since the B-52H bombers, despite their considerable age, are still a serious threat, third countries - the likely opponents of the United States - need to take a number of special measures. With their help, you can protect yourself from the main representative of the long-range aviation of the United States and its weapons.
First of all, it is necessary to develop its air defense system. Ground-based radars and long-range radar patrols are needed that can monitor the situation not only near the borders, but also in remote dangerous areas. All this will make it possible to find flying aircraft and ammunition dropped by them in a timely manner. Also necessary modern layered air defense system, including fighter-interceptors and anti-aircraft missile systems. It will be able to cover a wide range of ranges and intercept targets at distances of hundreds of kilometers. All air defense components must be resistant to enemy EW equipment and be able to detect stealth aircraft.
The latest steps for the development of the US Air Force in general and of the B-52H aircraft in particular place special demands on the naval forces of third countries. Stratofortress with Minas Quickstrike-ER can be a serious threat. As a result, new requirements for mine-sweeping forces appear. They need modern ships-minesweepers and other systems, carried, towed or autonomous. High potential in this context can have unmanned underwater or surface complexes capable of operating as a large group in a large area.
Thus, third countries are fully capable of resisting B-52H bombers or even completely eliminating their combat use by creating an excessive threat. To do this, it is necessary to take into account the current situation and determine the front of threats, and then appropriately supplement or rebuild the armed forces - first of all, ground-based air defense systems and fighter aircraft. In this case, we will talk not only about countering long-range bombers, but also about creating a full-fledged A2 / AD system that can deal with any other threats.
With all its advantages, B-52H is not invulnerable and does not guarantee unpunished striking. Effective combat with such bombers is very real and can be organized using modern methods and material parts. However, one should not forget that the USA is developing its combat aircraft, and therefore it is necessary to constantly improve means of protection against it.
Air defense and other components of the armed forces can reduce the combat potential of aviation of a potential enemy and become an effective means of strategic deterrence. As a result, the B-52H bombers are transformed from a real means of striking into a means of demonstrating power. For example, a few days ago, such planes flew to one of the bases in the UK and had already managed to perform patrols near the Russian borders. At the same time, it is obvious that we are talking exclusively about “diplomacy”. Attempting an air strike on objects of a country with Russia's military potential would be a real adventure with a predictable result for bombers.
Ilyin V.E. Kudishin I.V. Strategic bombers and missile carriers of foreign countries. - M .: Astrel / AST, 2002.
IISS The Military Balance 2018.