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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:49 AM
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B-52 squadrons trim planes, swap missions
B-52 squadrons trim planes, swap missions
By Bruce Rolfsen - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jan 20, 2009 17:51:16 EST

In order to stand up a fifth B-52H squadron this year, Air Combat Command is reorganizing the Stratofortress community trading missions among existing B-52H units, reducing the number of B-52Hs in each squadron and getting all 76 authorized bombers combat-ready, ACC officials said.

The Air Force decided to create a new B-52H squadron after Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the service to put more emphasis on its nuclear strike role, following the embarrassing discovery that a B-52H had carried six nuclear-armed cruise missiles across the U.S. without anyone realizing the missiles were loaded with real warheads.

Air Force leaders decided the only way to boost B-52H nuclear training while meeting ongoing deployment demands was to increase the size of the B-52H force, said Lt. Col. Grey Morgan, acting B-52 weapons team chief at ACC headquarters.

The squadron, which will be stood up later this year at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., likely will start with three or four planes and achieve initial operational capability in late 2009. Many of the start-up details are being worked out, added Morgan, who flies as a B-52H radar navigator.

Air Combat Command is overseeing the transition even though the Air Force plans for B-52H and B-2 Spirit bombers to eventually come under the new Global Strike Command once it is up and running sometime this year.

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