The Hydrogen Bomber: Meet the B-47 (That Had No Pilot)

War Is Boring
US Air Force [Public domain]

War Is Boring


Some cold war history.

The Hydrogen Bomber: Meet the B-47 (That Had No Pilot)

Long before the CIA began sending missile-armed drones to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, U.S. Air Force officials mulled sending robotic aircraft against the Soviet Union.

Carrying nuclear bombs.

Starting in late 1949, Air Force officials kicked off what would become Project Brass Ring, an attempt to turn long-range B-47 Stratojet bombers into remotely-piloted nuclear-weapons delivery vehicles.

We learned about the Air Force’s quest to build an unmanned nuclear bomber—which the flying branch ultimately abandoned—from A History of the Air Force Atomic Energy Program: 1943–1953, a series of declassified internal studies on the Air Force’s early nuclear history.

The study on Brass Ring describes the 1949 drone effort as the result of a timeless problem—bureaucratic infighting.

After dropping atom bombs on Japan at the close of World War II, the United States began developing much more powerful hydrogen bombs with which to target the Soviet Union.

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