Air Force employees cut up a B-52G on Dec. 19 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Under the New START Treaty, the aircraft is cut into two pieces separating the tail from the fuselage in order for Russia's satellites to verify the aircraft's elimination. (Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz/Air Force)
Air Force personnel lift the B-52G's tail section onto a custom-made cradle at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on Dec. 19. (Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz/Air Force)
The last of the B-52Gs required to be dismantled under the new nuclear arms reduction treaty is no more.
The Stratofortress, tail number 58-0224, was dismantled Dec. 19 at the Boneyard — the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
“What you see today will not be overly dramatic, but it is definitely historic,” said Col. Robert Lepper, commander of the 309th AMARG, at the event, according to the Armed Forces News Service.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, commonly known as New Start, required that the Air Force dismantle the bombers because their elimination limits the number of deployed strategic warheads, and the B-52Gs still counted as deployable in the boneyard. The treaty, which was effective Feb. 5, 2011, required the U.S. and Russia to limit deployable delivery vehicles to 700.
The bomber was dismantled by two engineers using a rescue saw to cut the tail off the fuselage, AFNS reported.
“Behind all the statistics were the dedicated troops and the aircrew that flew this airplane,” said, retired Gen. Earl O’Loughlin, a former commander of Air Force Logistics Center, now Air Force Materiel Command, according to AFNS. “This plane came into the inventory at a very strategic time. ... It gave us a capability of long-range strike and gave us the true support that we needed for this country.”
The Air Force still flies 85 of the upgraded B-52Hs, which entered service in 1961.
The G variant was used extensively in bombing campaigns in Vietnam, including the 1972 Operation Linebacker II campaigns, and flew 1,741 sorties during Operation Desert Storm.