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Ten B-52s from the 2nd Bomb Wing practiced rapid takeoff during a minimum-interval exercise at Barksdale AFB, La., Aug. 14, 2014. Here, one of the bombers starts its engines. Air Force photo by SSgt. Sean Martin

The flight line at Barksdale AFB, La., reverberated with a series of explosions as 10 B-52s from the 2nd Bomb Wing used starter cartridges filled with gunpowder for rapid engine starts during a minimum-interval takeoff exercise. Using the explosive charges, instead of the usual electrical starter carts, enabled aircrews to get airborne more quickly upon receiving an alert notice during the Aug. 14 event, states Barkdale’s release. MITO exercises were common during the Cold War when Strategic Air Command bombers had to be ready for rapid takeoffs during a threatened Soviet nuclear attack. The goal is to get the bombers airborne within 15 minutes of an alert call, according to the release. “We are practicing for a real-world event. If something were to happen, this is how Barksdale would respond,” said SrA. Mitchell Dexter of the 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft power plant section. “The MITO proves the teamwork between both the aircrews and ground crews is solid,” said Col. David Foote, 2nd Maintenance Group commander. “This allows Barksdale to provide nuclear deterrence, giving our allies the assurance that we have the capability needed to deter our adversaries,” he said.