Designed for the nuclear role, the B-52H turned its hand to a new mission in the skies above Afghanistan in 2001 — assisting troops on the ground through close air support.

A 2nd Bomb Wing B-52H flying over the Indian Ocean on its way back to Diego Garcia after working with special forces.
David Leedom

THE MIGHTY BOEING B-52 Stratofortress was designed to carry nuclear weapons anywhere in the world and deliver them at very short notice. Every B-52 base in the US was equipped with an alert pad stocked with nuclear munitions and tanker support, ready to go to war. If there was ever a need to strike fear into the hearts of potential adversaries, the ‘BUFF’ (Big Ugly Fat Fella) has always been the go-to warplane.

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