Northern Migration

Barksdale AFB, La., could lose up to 10 of its B-52H bombers to Minot AFB, N.D., under the changes the Air Force is making to its B-52 force. KSLA TV News 12 of Shreveport, La., reported April 10 that both Louisiana Senators confirmed this. While staff of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) put the number at six to 10, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) placed the number squarely at 10, according to the station. The Air Force is establishing a second squadron of combat-ready B-52s at Minot as part of its plan to maintain a total aircraft inventory of 76 B-52s vice only 56, as it championed last year. The second combat-coded unit at Minot will give the Air Force four in total, when including Barksdale’s own two combat-ready squadrons, allowing USAF to rotate them in and out of the nuclear mission. This concept emerged from the lessons of the mistaken transfer of nuclear warheads on a B-52 flight from Minot to Barksdale in August 2007 and is part of the Air Force leadership’s desire to place more emphasis on the nuclear mission to prevent such gaffes again. Minot is expected to gain about 1,000 new manpower positions. But Barksdale, too, is expected to grow manpower-wise even with the loss of the aircraft, with about 300 new airmen projected to cover increased B-52 training requirements. According to KSLA TV, Barksdale currently hosts a total of 62 of the Air Force’s 94 B-52s. USAF wants to retire 18 and get the fleet down to 76; last year it wanted to retire a total of 38 B-52s, but Congress prevented this.