The US military is sending nuclear-capable B-52H “Stratofortress” bombers to the Middle East at short notice to deter aggression and help preserve regional security.
The US Central Command said on Sunday the “long-range mission into the Middle East demonstrates the US military’s ability to deploy combat airpower anywhere in the world on short notice and integrate into Centcom operations to help preserve regional stability and security”.
The B-52H is a goliath of the US military, able to carry 32,000kg of munitions – including nuclear missiles – over 14,000 kilometres without refuelling. The US often sends the aircraft as a show of strength and a deterrence to hot spots around the world.
“The ability to quickly move forces into, out of and around the theatre to seize, retain and exploit the initiative is key to deterring potential aggression,” Lt Gen Greg Guillot, 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) commander, said.
“These missions help bomber aircrews gain familiarity with the region’s airspace and command and control functions and allow them to integrate with the theatre’s US and partner air assets, increasing the combined force’s overall readiness.”
Centcom said that during the mission, the bomber aircrews will work with air operations centres and other assets such as F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, KC-10 Extenders and KC-135 Stratotankers.
“Centcom is committed to preserving and protecting the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce throughout the region,” Cpt Bill Urban, US Central Command spokesman, said. “The United States does not seek conflict, but continues to be postured and committed to respond to any contingency around the world.”
Cap Urban did not specify if there was any current heightened threat to the US or its Middle East allies.
The US has previously stationed B-52 bombers at its Al Udaid airbase in Qatar.