After preparing to do it for over half a century, an American B-52 will finally fly to Moscow from North America, using the shortest route (over the North Pole). This flight to Russia is not the first for B-52s, but it is the first using the short route, which was to be heavily used if B-52s, armed with nuclear weapons, were ever sent to war against Russia. This time, it’s a good will mission, to show off U.S. aircraft at a trade show (MAKS 2011, in late August). Other American aircraft shown at the show include the P-3C, A-10, F-16C, C-130J, C-5, F-15E and KC-10.
Earlier trips had been made (from 1992-2005) using longer routes. The destination was often trade shows. MAKS is a show for hundreds of companies that supply aviation and space related equipment gather to show off, and make sales. MAKS is held every two years, and the last one attracted over 650,000 visitors (buyers as well as buffs.)
Israel is pressing the U.S. for a chance to make a bid to buy vehicles that American troops would otherwise sell to Iraq. There might even be an auction. This is all because, as the United States prepares to pull the last of its troops out of Iraq at the end of the year, there is still billions of dollars’ worth of equipment to be either brought home, or sold. Iraq was hoping for a windfall here, believing that the U.S. would donate a lot of stuff to them, rather than ship it home. The Iraqis were somewhat disappointed. The U.S. did give them $151 million worth of weapons and equipment, plus billions of dollars’ worth of bases which could not be moved. But much of the gear was taken away, or offered for sale.
The U.S. military is facing tighter budgets, and had early on decided that most weapons and equipment were to be shipped home, to be refurbished, or simply cleaned up and put back in service. A lot of gear was shipped east, to Afghanistan. The Iraqis got whatever was not worth sending in either direction. This included equipment (like air conditioners) that were not needed in Afghanistan (where living conditions are more austere) and were not worth the cost of shipping all the way back to the United States.