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​A B-52H Stratofortress, 61-1021, assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 307th Bomb Wing, is the first B-52H bomber to be converted as part of the New START Treaty. Air Force photo by MSgt. Dachelle Melville.

The first B-52Hs began conversion to only carry non-nuclear weapons at Barksdale AFB, La., in compliance with the New START arms reduction agreement with Russia, Air Force Global Strike Command announced. Serial number 61-1021 of Air Force Reserve Command's 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale is the first of 30 Active B-52s slated for conventional-only conversion by 2017, according to a Sept.​ 17 release. An additional 12 B-52Hs currently in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., will also be converted to spare them from destruction under the treaty, officials announced. Conventional-only B-52s will be outwardly identifiable to ease Russia's treaty compliance monitoring efforts. New START stipulates that both the US and Russia meet limits of 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed launchers, and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers by February 2018. AFGSC plans to fully complete conversions early to provide for unforeseen delays. The conversions will leave a nuclear capable fleet of 20 B-2A and 46 B-52H aircraft.