METHODS AND WEAPONS

To penetrate the defenses of the Soviet Union, the B-52 was equipped with a range of systems. An extensive array of jamming gear, detection equipment and decoying devices were employed. If the mission had ever been flown, B-52s would have almost certainly succeeded in entering Soviet airspace, bombing its targets, and making it out alive.

A B-52G shows off its nuclear bomb arsenal.

The planes carried systems designed to confound SAM radars, jam early warning systems, confuse enemy communications, and lure away defenses. Air launched decoys were to be launched ahead and to the sides of the bombers, each one looking just like a B-52 on Soviet radar. These decoys could fly over 650 miles from the launch point, making turns as they went. With so many false targets, the Soviet defenses would have been overwhelmed.

Stand-off munitions, like air launched cruise missiles, television guided bombs, and rocket-propelled air-to-surface munitions assured that the planes could hit even the highest priority, heaviest defended targets. To manage it all, a dedicated electronics and radar navigation team honed its skills in simulation after simulation, countering all of the Soviet threats at hand.

Although the plane had been tasked with this singular role -- the bombing of the Soviet Union in a nuclear campaign -- it was to see its finest hours in a conventional role, dropping regular "iron" bombs in two wars: Vietnam and Desert Storm.

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