11 photos of the legendary B-52 Stratofortress bomber

The US Air Force recently announced that the last squadrons of the legendary B-52 Stratofortress have returned home after concluding operations against ISIS in the Middle East and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Following two years of B-52 squadrons employing nearly 12,000 weapons on Islamic State and Taliban targets across U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, the venerable BUFF flew its last mission April 7 before turning over the bomber duty reins to the newly arrived B-1B Lancer," an Air Force spokesman said in a statement.

The bomber, nicknamed the BUFF for "Big Ugly Fat Fellow," has been in service with the Air Force for 63 years, the last two of which it served as US Central Command's go-to bomber.

Here's what it can do:

11 PHOTOS
B-52 Stratofortress bomber
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B-52 Stratofortress bomber

Developed by Boeing, the B-52 made its maiden flight in 1952, and costs about $84 million each.

Boeing is one of the largest defense contractors and political donors in the US.​​​​​​​

Photo Credit: NASA

Source: US Air Force

The bomber can conduct attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air, and maritime missions.

Photo Credit: US Air Force 

Source: US Air Force

It's powered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines, each providing the bomber with 17,000 pounds of thrust.

A B-52H Stratofortress takes off after being taken out of long-term storage Feb. 13, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Photo Credit;  U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele

Source: US Air Force

It has a maximum speed of 650 miles per hour, a maximum range of 8,800 miles, and a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet.

Photo Credit: US Air Force 

Source: US Air Force

It also has a five-person crew — an aircraft commander, a pilot, and ...

Photo Credit: US Air Force

Source: US Air Force

a radar navigator, a electronic warfare officer, and a navigator.

Photo Credit: US Air Force 

Source: US Air Force

The B-52 has a payload of about 70,000 pounds. It's able to carry a variety of bombs, mines, and missiles. It can even carry air-launched cruise missiles.

Photo Credit: 

Source: US Air Force

It's able to drop and launch the widest variety of weapons of any US aircraft, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles, and joint direct attack munitions.

Photo Credit: US Air Force

Source: US Air Force 

In February, the B-52 dropped a record number of smart bombs on the Taliban in Afghanistan, unloading 24 precision-guided munitions in a 96-hour period.

 The US announced in November 2017 that it would begin targeting the Taliban's revenue sources, much of which is opium and heroin, with airstrikes. But the new strategy has been criticized by some as a game of "whack-a-mole" since the Taliban can reportedly rebuild their drug labs in just a few days.

Source: Business Insider

The US currently has 58 active and 18 reserve B-52s.

Photo Credit: US Air Force 

Source: US Air Force

And plans to keep the bomber flying until at least 2040.

Photo Credit: US Air Force 

Source: US Air Force

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SEE ALSO: The US used the B-1B Lancer long-range bomber to strike Syria — here's what it can do

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