Boneyard B-52G Fleet Shrinks

The Air Force had 24 out-of-service B-52G bombers in its aircraft boneyard, as of March 1, that still counted as deployed heavy bombers under the counting rules of the New START agreement with Russia, announced the State Department this week. That total is down six from the 30 B-52Gs that were in place there last September, according to data that the United States exchanges twice a year with the Russians under the treaty’s terms. The Air Force is cutting up these retired B-52G airframes in a manner that eliminates them from the nuclear-capable heavy bomber inventory for the purposes of the treaty. These activities are part of the service’s broader drawdown of the nuclear-capable bomber force to no more than 60 deployable B-2s and B-52Hs so that the United States meets New START’s ceilings on strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems by February 2018. As of March 1—the date of the most recent data exchange—the Air Force had a total of 111 deployed heavy bombers (B-2:10, B-52G: 24, and B-52H: 77), according to the State Department’s July 1 fact sheet. That number grew to 135, when factoring the additional heavy bombers in non-deployed status (B-2: 10 and B-52H: 14).