Tuesday, April 12, 2016

B-52 Stratofortress Takes On Its Next Combat Role for US CENTCOM

On 9 April,at least 2 US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers landed at Al Udeid Air Base,Qatar after a long haul flight from Barksdale Air Force Base,Louisiana.According to Air Force Central Command,they were deployed in support of theatre requirements and the anti-ISIL Operation Inherent Resolve.The B-52 will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,said Lieutenant General Charles Q. Brown,Commander,US Air Forces CENTCOM and Combined Forces Air Component.As a multi-role platform,the B-52 offers diverse capabilities including delivery of the precision weapons and the flexibility and endurance needed to support the combatant commanders' priorities and strengthen the coalition team.*
The long-range B-52 can perform a variety of missions including strategic attack;close air support;air interdiction;and maritime operations.Crews will be available for missions to both Iraq and Syria.The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on ISIL and defend the region in any future contingency,LTGEN Brown added.*
The deployment is the first time the B-52s have been based in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility since being based in Saudi Arabia 26 years ago during Operation Desert Storm.B-52s were last deployed in a combat role during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in May 2006.*
At a 7 March State of the Air Force briefing,Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James disclosed that the B-1B Lancer bombers had returned from their OIR mission in January.While they will be receiving much needed modernisation and maintenance,the venerable B-52 with its similar capacity and accuracy and endurance remains ready and able to meet combatant commanders' requirements.There have been recent infrastructure improvements that now allow the necessary support to deploy the B-52 in theatre,Ms.James noted.*
Indeed,the Air Force intends to keep the Boeing B-52s flying as far out as 2040,since they are seen as providing certain missions that are hard to replicate by other aircraft,primarily with regard to the range and payload aspects.The bomber's payload can include cruise missiles with both nuclear and conventional warheads,as well as Joint Direct Attack Munitions,cluster and gravity bombs.*
Boeing (BA)

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