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Different Strokes for Different Folks

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Indian Tu-142 (Wikipedia)

Apropos of this story on the reintegration of B-52 into an air-sea framework, some recent research on the book reminded me of how differently the Soviets handled air-sea cooperation.  As readers of Red Storm Rising may recollect, Soviet long and medium range bombers were expected to play a major role in naval conflict in the Atlantic.  Accordingly, the Soviet Navy possessed its own fleets of bombers to use in anti-ship and anti-submarine roles.  These included naval versions of the Tu-95, Tu-16, and Tu-22, which were also front-line strategic models.

Apart from a very few B-17s and quite a lot of B-24s in World War II, I’m not aware of the USN operating any strategic bombers under its own colors.  Some B-52s were equipped to launch Harpoon anti-ship missiles during the Cold War, but they remained under Air Force command.  Indeed, I suspect that the Air Force would have reacted to the idea of USN B-52s with sheer panic.  To be sure, there are good reasons for keeping an entire fleet in one service (no unnecessary duplication of maintenance and training requirements), but then there are also good reasons for putting all of the weapons necessary to conducting a particular mission under a single command.

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