Murphy's Law: March 4, 2002


The most effective weapon of the Afghanistan war was the 40 year old B-52H bombers. The B-52 entered service 50 years ago, and the current ones were the last built, in the early 1960s. Compared to more modern aircraft, the B-52 is simple. It's basically a transport for bombs. Its also cheap. The cost per flight hour (for maintenance and fuel), is $7,100. Hourly costs for the B-1B are $10,635, for the B-2 it's $13,538. But because of the special hangers and maintenance needed for the B-2, you either fly twice as many hours to come in from the American Midwest, or build those expensive hangers closer to the targets. So in the case of Afghanistan, the actual cost per B-2 sortie was twice the nominal cost because of the 32 hour missions. Not included in the above figures is the capital cost (amortizing construction and R&D), which is much lower for the B-52s and much higher for the B-2. Thus taking all costs into account (including different crew sizes), it would appear that the actual cost per flight hour is something like $8,000 for the B-52, $16,000 for the B-1B and $32,000 for the B-2. However, if you got the money, the important thing is getting the right bombs on the right targets. All three aircraft can do that, and all three can, with sufficient tanker support, fly from North America to any place on the planet.


Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close