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Go along on a B-52 mission
The plane's controls may look antiquated, but
the effectiveness of the aircraft is proven
CNN correspondent describes lengthy flight
March 30, 1999
Web posted at: 10:04 a.m. EST (1504 GMT)
|CNN Correspondent Bill Delaney accompanied the crew of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber on a combat mission against Yugoslavia. The 16-hour round-trip flight began at an air base in Fairford, England. This video report has been cleared by the U.S. Air Force.
FAIRFORD, England (CNN) -- The giant B-52, one of the warplanes taking part in NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia, is older than the U.S. Air Force crew members who fly it.
No warplane in history has lasted longer, flown more missions, dropped more explosives or held on so sturdily against the march of technology.
The lumbering, long-range aircraft, now loaded with cruise missiles, are back in action in Operation Allied Force -- their third war -- in NATO's bid to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the peace table.
Despite the proven worth of radar-evading "stealth" aircraft, the Air Force says the slow but steady B-52 -- the primary U.S. strategic bomber since 1954, used in wars in Vietnam and Iraq -- will remain on duty for another 40 years.
A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber on a mission against
Not high-tech, but lethal
The raw power of the B-52, with its 185-foot wingspan, shudders through the aircraft as it rises.
"It's a stick and rudder airplane," says one crew member, an Air Force colonel who, for security reasons, cannot be identified. "It's not high-tech, like the new fighters and the new weapons systems ... (It's) the old style of flying."
Still, amid museum-like dials and gauges, almost quaint throttle controls and other equipment with flaking paint, this will be an airstrike as lethal and sophisticated as any ever made.
"It's a great way to fight a battle," says an Air Force captain who also cannot be identified by name. "We can sit out there and execute the mission as NATO directs us to in a much less threatening environment."
In fact, when the B-52 launches its missiles, still hundreds of miles away from Yugoslavia, there's barely a bump in the ride.
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Air Power Over Kosovo
More B-52s to bolster
Welcome to the B-52 Stratofortress Association Web Page
The Tale of the Stratofortress
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
Kesovo and Metohija facts
Serbia Ministry of Information
Serbia Now! News
Kosova Crisis Center
Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
Kosovo - from Albanian.com
F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
NATO official site
BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Committee of the Red Cross
Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
Catholic Relief Services
ReliefWeb: Home page
Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis
1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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