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US Air Force B-52 bomber ‘sends distress signal’ after mid-air emergency over Gloucestershire

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A US Air Force B-52 bomber sent a distress signal after a mid-air emergency over Gloucestershire.

According to tracking website Flightradar 24, the aircraft transmitted a “squawk code 770, indicating general emergency, near Tewkesbury, UK”.

Two of the giant planes were spotted in the skies above the county on Friday, Gloucestershire Live reports.

The aircraft had call signs BALOO51 and BALOO52 and both were flying at an altitude of over 9,000 feet.

According to Flightradar 24 the aircraft that issued the warning had the call sign BALOO52 and was built in January 1961, though it will have gone through several upgrades and refurbishments.

The US Air Force later said the plane was on a training mission when it experienced a “general in flight emergency” .

Its crew issued the warning to ensure full access to RAF Fairford, where it is currently operating from, and it landed safely.

Currently, there are six US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers based at RAF Fairford, in the Cotswolds.

The US Air Force recently announced that B-52’s from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and operating out of RAF Fairford have been taking part in operations over the Black Sea.

The mission was designed to train U.S. forces to operate and communicate while integrating with joint, NATO and partner nations.

The B-52 is capable of carrying 20 nuclear cruise missiles and has been on the front line of America’s defence arsenal since the mid-50s.

So iconic were the B-52s that they became synonymous with the Cold War and were deployed in the Vietnam war.

The also served in the Gulf Wars as well as Afghanistan and were used to wipe out ISIS fighters in Iraq.

They even went on to become to inspiration for an American rock band of the same name.

Much of the interest in the B-52s stems from their devastating payload – which was seen up close when several of the bombers were deployed to RAF Fairford, Gloucs, in 2017.

The nuclear-capable fleet can each deliver 30 tons worth of bombs, missiles and mines.

The jewel in the crown of the £95million B-52s are its nuke-carrying AGM-86C cruise missiles.

Each can pack a punch ten times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.

Though moving at a relatively sluggish 650mph, the behemoths are difficult to knock out of the sky owing to their 50,000ft operating ceiling.

The US Air Force said in statement: “On Sept. 25 2020, a U.S. B-52H Stratofortress from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was returning to RAF Fairford from a routine training mission.

“While enroute to RAF Fairford, the B-52 experienced a general in flight emergency, which our experienced crews are able to identify and respond to due to their routine training and preparation.

“The squawk was a precaution to ensure they had proper access to the airfield to complete a safe and clear landing which they successfully accomplished.”

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