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U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert J. Horstman

During the recent Republican debate, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee chose the venerable B-52 Stratofortress to exemplify how the military was being hobbled by declining defense spending. But as some commentators have explained, his example was a poor choice. The B-52 served well over the past decade, sporting a higher mission-capable rate in 2012 than newer bombers like the B-1B Lancer and the B-2 Spirit. Boeing estimates the B-52 fleet’s lifespan to last until the 2040s, but the Air Force hopes to begin replacing them in the next few years with a new aircraft developed from the Long Range Strike Bomber program, as well as another bomber project projected for 2037. When the B-52 finally retires, it will be around 90 years old; a testament to the aircraft’s capable design.

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