The B-52 Stratofortress was designed in the years after World War II to serve as a heavy bomber for the Cold War and took its maiden flight in 1952. The Cold War came and went, but the B-52 is still in active military service 94 of the 102 H-model B-52 aircraft built in the 1960’s remain on duty.
This year marks the sixtieth year of B-52 operation that is a laudable goal for any piece of technology, but even more so considering the demanding reliability and performance requirements for military hardware. The plan is for the aircraft to remain in service through 2044. This 2002
article has some relevant quotes:
- In an era when a 9-month-old laptop already feels retro, when people who keep their cars for six years are considered quaint, the fact that the most powerful military in the world relies on a fleet of 40-year-old bombers [now 50] is pretty astonishing.
- And the B-52 is not some creaky relic that the military keeps around for air shows. The planes have seen more combat in this decade than in the previous three decades combined.
- If the B-52 does remain in service for 80 years, it will be like using a weapon from the Civil War to win World War II.
- “Right now, there are three generations of pilots who have flown that plane — grandfather, father, and son — in the same family. If it lasts until 2040 [now 2044], five generations will have flown the same plane.”
So, how does the B-52 relate to Postgres? Ignoring the B-52’s destructive purpose, there are some similarities:
- Both were developed by the U.S. Defense Department (Postgres was initially funded by DARPA)
- Both were developed decades ago and have remained in use far longer than expected
- Both are easily enhanced with new technology, which has increased their longevity
- Both operate in demanding environments where reliability and performance are critical
- Both are inexpensive, compared to the alternatives
- Both are covered on Slashdot