Jan. 8 (UPI) — The flight of two B-52 bombers from the United States to the Middle East is the fourth such show of force in the past 60 days, U.S. Central Command said.
“The aircrews flew a 36-hour, non-stop mission from the 5th Bomb Wing’s home at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to the Arabian Gulf and back to send a clear deterrent message by displaying the ability to deploy overwhelming combat power on short notice,” CENTCOM said Friday in a statement.
Officials added that the actions were taken “to demonstrate the U.S. military’s continuing commitment to regional security and deterrence to aggression.”
The planes were escorted, part of the way, by F-15 fighter planes of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The B-52s were refueled in midair at regular intervals, and their arrival locations were not disclosed, similar to the flight of two other B-52 bombers on Dec. 30.
The display of military strength comes amid concern that Tehran might retaliate in the Middle East for the assassination of Iran’s top military commander, Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.
A nuclear-armed submarine, the USS Georgia, prominently sailed into the Arabian Gulf in December, and the carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz remains off the African coast near Somalia.
The B-52H Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can at altitudes of 50,000 feet, has an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles and carries precision guided ordnance with worldwide precision navigation, the CENTCOM statement noted.
Friday’s action suggests that there will be no U.S. military respite in the area during the transition of U.S. administrative power to President-elect Joe Biden.