Two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses flew a direct, 36-hour round-trip flight from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to the Persian Gulf on Friday, marking 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 confirmed in a statement.
Officials added the overflights were taken “to demonstrate the U.S. military’s continuing commitment to regional security and deterrence to aggression,” clearly rejecting Iran’s threats of a “crushing and fiery response” to such incursions.
The planes were escorted, part of the way, by F-15 fighter planes of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s escort @usairforce B-52s from @TeamMinot in the #CENTCOM AoR @modgovksa @USAFCENT @AFGlobalStrike @US_Stratcom @DeptofDefense https://t.co/xBNyLMorYa pic.twitter.com/zRYQPVQd6Z
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 8, 2021
The Friday flights followed a similar long-range sortie on New Year’s Eve, as Breitbart News reported.
Previous to that, on Dec. 10, two B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., joined aircraft of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar in a show of force in the Persian Gulf.
The deployments are part of a buildup of tensions as the Middle East prepares for possible retaliation by Iran for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, last November.
Both Israel and the United States have positioned missile-carrying submarines in the area, and the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz Strike Group, which includes the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and over 60 aircraft, has been stationed off the East African coast.
Officially nicknamed the Stratofortress and informally known as the Big Ugly Fat Fellow, the B-52 featured heavily in the air war over Vietnam.
It 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 there will be no U.S. military respite in the area during the transition of U.S. administrative power to President-elect Joe Biden.
UPI contributed to this story