Cut and Buff:

Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, head of 8th Air Force, told Washington-based defense reporters Wednesday that the Air Force is in the process of identifying the 56 “best” B-52s in its fleet to receive a new suite of upgrades. Once the 56 least problem-prone of the bombers have been chosen—based on depot history, stress cracks, hours flown, etc.—only those will receive the upgrades. The Air Force had proposed reducing the operational fleet from 76 to 56 in the 2008 budget request, however lawmakers want to preserve all 76 until USAF fields a new bomber (see “Black Magic” above). One of the upgrades B-52s will receive, Elder said, is “Connect,” which will allow an Air Operations Center to re-target weapons like the Joint Direct Attack Munitions right on the racks of an airborne bomber. However, the system is “very expensive technology,” Elder noted, and “if you have a large number of airplanes you have to modify, then … you can’t afford it.”