(UPI) — A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber joined escort aircraft of Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in a flight over the Persian Gulf, in a show of force aimed at Iran.
The B-52, a heavy bomber, from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., “flew through the CENTOM AOR [Central Command area of responsibility] Mar. 7. Multiple partner nations joined the bomber at different point of the mission,” a brief statement from U.S. Air Forces Central said on Sunday.
“These missions reiterate the U.S. Air Force global reach capability & commitment to regional security,” the statement concluded.
F-15 fighter planes of Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia served as escorts in their respective airspaces until the B-52 returned to the United States.
The mission was the seventh, using B-52s, in the area in the past six months, although the first time Israeli planes were observed to be involved. It was also the second since U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
2 @TeamMinot B-52s flew through the @CENTCOM AOR Mar 7. Multiple partner nations joined the bombers at different points of the mission, including @IDF, @MOD_Qatar, & @modgovksa. These missions reiterate the @usairforce global reach capability & commitment to regional security. pic.twitter.com/6epb7lndch
— US AFCENT (@USAFCENT) March 8, 2021
“This exercise highlights capabilities, air control and operational integration, and is a continuation of the joint cooperation between the Royal Saudi Air Force and the U.S. Air Force to maintain security and stability in the region,” the pro-government Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh commented.
Iran has recently increased tensions in the region to improve its bargaining power with the United States as both countries consider a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Attacks by Iran-linked militias on American military bases in Iraq led to a U.S. airstrike in Syria in February, and Israel blames Iran for an attack last week on an Israeli-owned commercial ship in the Gulf of Oman.
Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Israel has updated its strategy to attack Iranian nuclear development sites, if necessary.