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Index of Nuclear Data

Table of US Strategic Bomber Forces
1945-49 | 1950-59 | 1960-69 | 1970-79 | 1980-89 | 1990-99 | 2000-12 | Notes


Bomber Forces 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-29 Superfortress 15 148 319 486 390
B-36 Peacemaker


35 36
B-50 Superfortress


35 99
Total Bombers (Total Inventory) 15 148 319 556 525

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-29 Superfortress [3] 15 125 270 420 330
B-36 Peacemaker [4]


18 18
B-50 Superfortress [5]


35 99
Total Bombers (PAA) 15 125 270 473 447

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 6 11 32 100 200
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 6 11 32 100 200



Bomber Forces 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-29 Superfortress 286 340 417 110 0




B-36 Peacemaker 38 98 154 185 209 338 247 127 22 0
B-50 Superfortress 196 219 224 138 90 0



B-47 Stratojet
12 62 329 795 1,086 1,306 1,285 1,367 1,366
B-52 Stratofortress




18 97 243 380 488
Total Bombers (Total Inventory) 520 669 857 762 1,094 1,442 1,650 1,655 1,769 1,854

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-29 Superfortress [3] 230 290 360 90 0




B-36 Peacemaker [4] 36 60 100 180 180 270 210 120 0
B-50 Superfortress [5] 196 219 200 135 90 0



B-47 Stratojet [6]


315 765 990 1,215 1,260 1,260 1,200
B-52 Stratofortress [8]





45 225 360 345
Total Bombers (PAA) 462 569 660 720 1,035 1,260 1,470 1,605 1,620 1,545

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 330 500 720 878 1,418 1,755 2,123 2,460 2,610 2,490
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 330 500 720 878 1,418 1,755 2,123 2,460 2,610 2,490



Bomber Forces 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-47 Stratojet 1,178 889 880 613 391 114 0


B-58 Hustler 19 66 76 86 94 93 83 81 76 41
B-52 Stratofortress 538 571 639 636 626 600 591 588 579 505
FB-111A








3
Total (Bombers) 1,735 1,526 1,595 1,335 1,111 807 674 669 655 549

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-47 Stratojet [6] 1,065 855 675 450 180 45 0


B-58 Hustler [7]
40 76 80 80 80 80 78 76 39
B-52 Stratofortress [8] 450 500 555 525 525 525 495 480 405 360
Total Bombers (PAA) 1,515 1,395 1,306 1,055 785 650 575 558 481 399

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 3,083 2,973 2,920 2,855 2,953 3,013 3,043 3,192 3,139 3,036
Hounddog (AGM-28B) [14]
43 184 438 474 453 434 438 382 330
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 3,083 3,016 3,104 3,293 3,427 3,465 3,476 3,630 3,521 3,366



Bomber Forces 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-52 Stratofortress 459 412 402 422 422 420 419 417 344 343
FB-111A 42 30 60 71 72 69 68 66 66 65
Total Bombers (Total Inventory) 501 442 462 493 494 489 487 483 410 408

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-52 Stratofortress [8] 360 347 397 357 330 330 316 316 316 316
FB-111A [9] 30 30 60 66 66 66 66 66 60 60
Total Bombers (PAA) 390 377 457 423 396 396 382 382 376 376

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 3,060 2,956 3,398 3,005 2,656 2,576 2,464 2,464 2,428 2,428
Hounddog (AGM-28B) [14] 279 276 272 270 263 262 246 230 0
SRAM (AGM-69A) [15]

175 500 900 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 3,339 3,232 3,845 3,776 3,819 3,978 3,850 3,834 3,568 3,568



Bomber Forces 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-52 Stratofortress 343 344 300 263 263 263 263 263 193 193
FB-111A 63 62 62 61 60 60 60 60 59 58
B-1B Lancer





18 76 97 97
Total Bombers (Total Inventory) 406 406 362 324 323 323 341 399 349 348

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-52 Stratofortress [8] 316 316 272 241 241 241 241 241 180 173
FB-111A [9] 60 60 56 56 56 56 56 56 48 48
B-1B Lancer [10]





15 64 90 90
Total Bombers (PAA) 376 376 328 297 297 297 312 361 318 311

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 2,428 2,428 2,052 1,804 1,804 1,804 2,044 2,999 2,574 2,488
SRAM (AGM-69A) [15] 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,140 1,100
ALCM (AGM-86B) [16]
0 192 576 900 1,160 1,525 1,614 1,614 1,600
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 3,568 3,568 3,384 3,520 3,844 4,104 4,709 5,753 5,328 5,188



Bomber Forces 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-52 Stratofortress 193 191 95 95 94 94 94 94 94 94
FB-111A 58 0







B-1B Lancer 96 96 95 95 95 95 95 0

B-2 Spirit


1 5 8 13 21 21 21
Total Bombers (Total Inventory) 347 287 190 191 194 197 202 115 115 115

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-52 Stratofortress [8] 154 125 74 74 74 56 56 56 56 56
FB-111A [9] 24 0







B-1B Lancer [10] 89 84 84 84 80 60 48 0

B-2 Spirit [11]


1 3 6 9 9 9 16
Total Bombers (PAA) 267 209 158 159 157 122 113 65 65 72

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 1,948 2,244 1,424 1,410 1,378 1,106 1,172 404 404 516
SRAM (AGM-69A) [15] 1,100 0







ALCM (AGM-86B) [16] 1,600 1,600 1,100 1,000 1,000 640 430 430 430 430
ACM (AGM-129A) [17]

300 430 430 430 430 430 430 430
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 4,648 3,844 2,824 2,840 2,808 2,176 2,032 1,264 1,264 1,376



Bomber Forces 2000 2001 2002 2007 2012

Bombers (Total Inventory) [1]
B-52 Stratofortress 94 94 94 94 94
B-2 Spirit 21 21 21 21 21
Total (Bombers) 115 115 115 115 115

Bombers (PAA) [2]
B-52 Stratofortress [8] 56 56 56 56 56
B-2 Spirit [11] 16 16 16 16 16
Total Bombers (PAA) 72 72 72 72 72

Bombers Weapons (Force Loadings) [12]
Bombs [13] 516 516 516 516 1,286
ALCM (AGM-86B) [16] 430 430 430 430 45
ACM (AGM-129A) [17] 430 430 430 430 45
Total (Force Loading Weapons) 1,376 1,376 1,376 1,376 1,376
*   The 2007 figure is a goal of the Bush administration's 2001 Nuclear Posture Review
** The 2012 figure is a limit of the Treaty of Moscow signed on May 24, 2002


NOTES

1. Includes the total number of bombers in the Strategic Air Command active inventory ("assigned resources," not bombers in inactive storage) as of the end of the year (December).

2. Primary Authorized Aircraft (PAA). Previously the term Unit Equipment (UE) was used. More recently the term Primary Mission Aircraft is used. All of the terms specify the number of aircraft assigned to operational units in combat ready condition. The difference between inventory and PAA are those planes used for training and those in maintenance.

3. Not all B-29 Boeing bombers were modified to carry nuclear weapons. On 31 December 1946 there were 23 nuclear modified B-29 bombers; on 1 March 1947 there were 35; on 1 December 1948 there were 38; in mid-January 1949 there were 66; and on 1 January 1950 there were 95. See David Alan Rosenberg, "U.S. Nuclear Stockpile, 1945 to 1950," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1982, p. 30. The Strategic Air Command was established on 21 March 1946 as a combat command of the Army Air Forces. On 18 September 1947 the Department of the Air Force was created as a military service and SAC was reorganized and realigned.

4. Not all of the 385 Convair B-36 bombers that the Air Force accepted were modified to carry nuclear weapons. On 1 December 1948 there were four nuclear modified B-36 bombers; by mid-January 1949 there were 17; and by 1 January 1950 there were 34. Effective 1 October 1955, SAC's four heavy Strategic Reconnaissance Wings were redesignated heavy Bombardment Wings in recognition of the conversion of the RB-36 from a reconnaissance airplane to a bomber.

5. Not all of the 370 Boeing B-50 bombers that the Air Force bought were modified to carry nuclear weapons. On 1 December 1948 there were 18 nuclear modified B-50 bombers; by mid-January 1949 there were 38; and by 1 January 1950 there were 96. The B-50 was basically a B-29 that was to be a stopgap to be used until an aircraft more suitable for atomic weapon delivery became available. On 1 July 1950 there were a total of 264 nuclear modified B-29, B-36 and B-50 bombers. SAC's five wings of atomic-capable B-50s began to exchange their aircraft for new B-47s at the end of 1953. Those wings were the 509th (Walker AFB, NM), 43rd (Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ), 2d (Hunter AFB, GA), 93rd Castle, AFB, CA), and 97th ( Biggs, AFB, TX), all activated in July and August 1948.

6. The Air Force accepted a total of 2,041Boeing B-47s. The B and E versions had a maximum bomb load of 25,000 lb. Beginning with the 90th B-47B the Air Force had a requirement that it carry two types of fission bombs. The first B-47 configured to carry thermonuclear weapons was delivered in January 1955. By the end of April 1956 over 1,100 B-47s could handle the new thermonuclear bombs. SAC's last two B-47s went to storage on 11 February 1966.

7. The first full wing of 36 General Dynamics B-58As achieved initial operational capability in May 1961. This was with the 43rd Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB, TX. A second Bomb Wing, the 305th at Bunker Hill AFB, IN had its full allocation a year later. In December 1965, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara directed phaseout of the entire B-58 force by the end of June 1970. It was actually completed on 16 January 1970.

8. In June 1955 the Air Force took delivery of the first B-52. By October 1962 when the last B-52H was delivered to SAC Boeing had built a total of 744 bombers in models A-H, plus two prototypes. As of the end of 1996 all but 71 B-52Hs have been retired. The Air Force estimates that these planes will be structurally sound until about 2030, sixty eight years after entering service.

9. There were two wings of FB-111A aircraft, the 509th Bomb Wing at Pease AFB, NH which was fully combat ready in October 1971 and the 380th Strategic Aerospace Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, NY which was combat ready in 1972. A total of 76 FB-111As were accepted by the Air Force. On 10 July 1991 the SAC turned over its last FB-111A to the Tactical Air Command; 35 were redesignated F-111G, the rest were retired or sent to museums

10. One hundred B-1B bombers were purchased. Four have crashed, the most recent of which was on 30 November 1992 and one is considered a ground trainer, not part of Strategic Command's operational inventory. Under START II B-1Bs will no longer be counted as nuclear weapon carriers. Their transition to a conventional role is almost complete. By the end of 1997 the B-1 will be out of the SIOP altogether.

11. The first B-2 was delivered to the 509th Bombardment Wing on 17 December 1993. The 21st and last bomber will be delivered in 2000. The first 16 B-2s initially will only carry the B83 bomb. Eventually all of the planes will be able to carry both B61 and B83 bombs.

12. There is no easy or accurate method for estimating the actual number of weapons the bomber forces carry. How each bomber is loaded is determined by its Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) mission. The SIOP is the central nuclear war plan of the U.S. It is developed by the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at the Strategic Air Command in Omaha, Nebraska. It is incredibly complex once matching over 10,000 nuclear warheads with their targets taking into account factors of reliability, timing, target hardness, collateral damage, etc. The U.S. bomber's role in the overall plan must be integrated with ballistic missile salvos from SSBNs and land based forces in the U.S. and Europe. When bombers were on alert at each SAC base those in the northern parts of the U.S. had the least distance to fly over the north pole and would have been the first to reach the Soviet Union. Therefore it is likely that those bombers had a full complement of SRAMs intended for defense suppression and making corridors through which following bombers would fly. The counting assumptions for bomber loadings of nuclear weapons are as follows:

a) 1946-1948: Actual number of bombs in the stockpile as of June 30; Rosenberg.

b) 1949-1950: Rosenberg reports 240 mechanical assemblies as of June 30, 1949 and "at least 292" nuclear components and 688 mechanical assemblies as of 30 June 1950. We assume that there were 200 bombs by the end of 1949 and 400 by the end of 1950.

c) 1951-1952: Prior to the deployment of the B-47 bomber, the assumption is that there is a sufficient number of bombs for each PAA aircraft.

d) 1953-1955: B-29, B-36 and B-50 bombers continue to carry one bomb per aircraft. The assumption for the B-47 bomber from 1953 to 1965 is that there were an average of 1.5 bombs per aircraft; based on Department of Defense, OSD, "Memorandum for the President, Recommended FY 1965-FY 1969 Strategic Retaliatory Forces," 6 December 1963, p. 1-2 (partially declassified).

e) 1956-1959: B-36 and B-47 bombers carry one and 1.5 bombs, respectively (see above). B-52 average loading is two bombs per bomber.

f) 1960: With the introduction of the versatile B28 bomb in quantity the B-52 bomber force loading goes up to 3.3 bombs per plane; see Department of Defense, OSD, "Memorandum for the President, Recommended FY 1965-FY 1969 Strategic Retaliatory Forces," 6 December 1963, p.1-2 (partially declassified).

g) 1961-1962: The B-58 bomber carries one bomb until 1964. B-47 and B-52 bomber force loadings continue as above.

h) 1963: The average bomb force loading per B-52 bomber increases to four.

i) 1964-1969: The B-58 is modified to carry four bombs. B-52 bomber force loadings

gradually increase from 4.5 to 8 bombs per plane. The average bomb loadings are assumed to be: 4.5 in 1964, 5 in 1965, 5.5 in 1966, 6 in 1967, 7 in 1968, and 8 in 1969.

j) 1970-1971: The average bomb loadings for the B-52 and FB-111A bombers are eight and six respectively.

k) 1972-1986: Twenty FB-111A bombers carry six SRAMs each and no bombs. The remaining FB-111A bombers carry six bombs each. The remaining SRAMs are carried on B-52 bombers. B-52 bombers loaded with SRAMs carry 12 SRAMs and four bombs. The remaining B-52 bombers carry an average of eight bombs. B-1B bombers beginning in 1986 carry eight bombs.

13. Strategic bombers have carried a wide variety of types of bombs. The first generation were heavy, and then lighter weight fission bombs. The entry date is when the first warhead was produced and the exit date is when the last one was retired. Military service dates will differ. These included:
BombWeight (lb)
Yield (kt)
Entry-Exit
Mark 410,800
1-31
03/49-05/53
Mark 68,500
8-160
07/51-01/61
Mark 53,100
11-47
05/52-01/63
Mark 71,650
8-60
08/52-06/67

These were followed by large thermonuclear bombs: (Yield in Megatons)
B157,000
1.70-3.75
04/55-04/65
B17/2442,000
10-15
10/54-10/57
B2117,000
4-5
12/55-11/57
B3617,500
9-10
04/56-01/62
B396,650
3.75
02/57-11/66
B4110,000
10
09/60-07/76
B538,850
9
08/62 -to date

Finally there were lighter-weight, smaller-diameter, lower-yield bombs:
B282,000
up to 1.45 Mt
08/58-04/92
B432,100
up to 1.0 Mt
04/61-04/91
B61700
100-500 kt
01/68- to date
B832,400
1.2 Mt
09/83- to date

14. Eighty percent of the total inventory of nuclear armed Hound Dog (AGM-28B) air-to-surface missiles are force loadings.

15. Counting assumptions for nuclear-armed Short Range Attack Missiles (SRAM) (AGM-69A). The total number of operational SRAMs is 1140 from 1975-1986; HAC, FY 1982 DOD, Part 2, p. 101. The SRAM inventory peaked in 1975 at 1471. During the 1972-74 period, SRAM operational missiles were assumed to be the same ratio of operational/total inventory as in 1975. The SRAM was retired for safety reasons at the end of 1991.

16. Counting assumptions for nuclear armed Air-Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCM) (AGM-86B). The number of ALCMs is assumed to be 12 per modified and deployed B-52G/H bomber. A few hundred ALCMs were converted to conventional versions and some were used in the Gulf War. With the retirement of B-52Gs and a portion of the B-52Hs several hundred ALCMs are being placed in a "hedge" and/or reserve status.

17. Advanced Cruise Missiles supplement and replace ALCMs.

last revised 11.25.02

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