B-52 could serve 95 years, outlasting snazzier, younger bombers

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2016, file photo, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. The Air Force says the venerable B-52 bomber, which gained lasting fame in Vietnam as an aerial terror, is now likely to outlive its younger, far snazzier brother bombers, the swept-wing B-1 and the stealthy B-2. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Air Force says the venerable B-52 bomber, which gained lasting fame in Vietnam as an aerial terror, is now likely to outlive its younger, far snazzier brother bombers, the swept-wing B-1 and the stealthy B-2.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced Monday that the service plans to begin retiring the B-1 and B-2 fleets as soon as it builds enough of the service’s next-generation bomber, the B-21, nicknamed the Raider, which is still on the drawing boards.

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The B-52 is expected to keep flying until 2050, if not longer. The plane, called a Stratofortress, was built in 1952 and first entered service in 1955.

Wilson said the B-1 and B-2 retirement timelines depend on Raider production schedules — the Air Force expects to start fielding the new bomber in the mid-2020s.

A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. The powerful U.S. B-52 bomber flew low over South Korea on Sunday, a clear show of force from the United States as a Cold War-style standoff deepened between its ally Seoul and North Korea following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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