May 25, 2024


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Bombers Sent to Deter Iran

  • On Wednesday and Thursday, two B-52 bombers took off from a base in Louisiana and flew a 36-hour mission to the Middle East and back.
  • The bombers flew briefly with fighter jets from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, mimicking similar flights with NATO countries.
  • The Pentagon said the flight was meant to show U.S. resolve in the region, particularly to Iran.

    Two B-52H Stratofortress heavy strategic bombers just flew from the continental U.S. to the Middle East and back. The marathon flight, which saw the planes flying with fighter jets of regional allies, took the two bombers into the Persian Gulf adjacent to Iran.

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    The bombers reportedly flew to assure allies and enemies in the region that U.S. forces were on the alert while the risk of an attack by Iran was assessed as higher than normal.

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    A B-52 flies with bomb bay doors open, United Kingdom, 2009.

    Barry Batchelor – PA ImagesGetty Images

    The bombers took off on Wednesday, December 9 on a 36-hour mission that went on well into Thursday. According to CBS News, the bombers flew across the Atlantic and Europe, crossed the Arabian Peninsula, and flew down the Persian Gulf, β€œmaking a wide loop near Qatar and staying a safe distance from Iran’s coastline before returning home.”

    The New York Times says the bombers flew over the Middle East alongside aircraft from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. These were likely fighter jets, as all three countries maintain sizable inventories of American fighters, particularly F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

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    U.S. bombers deployed to Europe and Asia typically fly in formation with local planes, whether they’re Japanese, South Korean, Norwegian, Dutch, Polish, or other allied fighters. The flights are valuable training exercises for all air forces involved, while demonstrating solidarity against regional adversaries like China, North Korea, Russia, and now Iran.

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    The bombers were visible on aircraft tracking software on their return, flying over Jordan and headed toward Israel.

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    The big, lumbering planes continued west into the Mediterranean, where they briefly picked up two RAF Typhoon fighter jet escorts as they passed the island of Cyprus.

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    The B-52H bomber has a range of 8,800 miles, and the trip itself was about 17,000 miles. That means the two bombers would have had to refuel at least three times during the trip, though four times is more likely due to the crossing of the Atlantic.

    a us air force b 52h stratofortress assigned to the 5th bomb wing at minot air force base, north dakota, prepares for refueling from a kc 135 stratotanker from the 100th air refueling wing, raf mildenhall, england, above the mediterranean sea in support of a bomber task force europe mission, sept 16, 2020 the stratotankers are deployed to raf fairford, england, in support of joint and combined training with us allies and partners us air force photo by senior airman jennifer zima

    A B-52 bomber refuels over the Mediterranean, September 2020.

    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jennifer Zima

    CBS News, quoting an unnamed source, said the mission was carried out due to an assessment that an attack by Iran against American interests was slightly higher than normal, and that Iran and other adversaries often believe the U.S. might be distracted during a presidential transition.

    Iran has vowed revenge after U.S. forces assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps general Qassem Soleimani in January. Iran also believes the U.S. was involved in the assassination last month of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

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