Novel Role for Big Bomber

The Air Force provided two B-52 bombers, crewed by Air Force Reserve Command’s 93rd Bomb Squadron and Air Combat Command’s 96th BS, to aid post-Hurricane Ike reconnaissance efforts. The two bombers, both from Barksdale AFB, La., took more than 700 high-resolution digital images of oil platforms, oil tankers, and the shoreline infrastructures along the Texas coast between Galveston and Houston, according to a Sept. 20 release from AFRC’s 917th Wing at Barksdale. The aircraft also captured two hours of full motion video of the hurricane’s destruction, the flood area, and routes that emergency recovery crews could use. The Air Force considers these two flights, which were the first use of the B-52’s advanced forward looking infrared and visible light video recording equipment in a humanitarian search-and-rescue role, as a test of the concept for use of B-52s in both land and sea rescue efforts. (917th Wing report by Capt. Newman Robertson)