At least one B-52 assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing flew over the Middle East in an “observable” demonstration of military power, U.S. Central Command wrote in a press release on Sunday. The flight is the second of its kind this year, and the fifth in recent months, the Command wrote.
Though the press release did not specify where the bombers took off from, previous B-52 flights over the Middle East on Dec. 30 and Dec. 10 took off from bases in North Dakota and Louisiana, respectively. The bomber that flew Sunday’s mission is assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, which is based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
The press release also did not specify how many B-52s took part in the mission, though several previous flights involved two bombers.
Those previous flights took place in the middle of a build-up of force and tension in the region. On Dec. 21, Iran-backed militias launched rockets into an area housing the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, killing at least one civilian and damaging the embassy compound, NPR reported.
The U.S. government had previously moved to withdraw some staff from its Baghdad embassy as the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 3 killing of Iranian Maj Gen. Qasem Soleimani approaches, The Washington Post reported.
The new events also come a month after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the senior Iranian scientist who founded the country’s military nuclear program was reportedly killed by a remote-controlled machine gun.
Though the one-year anniversary of Soleimani’s killing has passed, the time for repeated U.S. bomber flights over the Middle East has not.
“Short-term deployments of strategic assets are an important part of our defensive posture in the region,” said Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of CENTCOM. McKenzie added that the mission “delivers a clear and consistent message in the operational environment to both friends and potential adversaries, alike.”
Featured Image – A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing departs after receiving fuel from a KC-10 Extender assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Jan. 17, 2021 (Air Force photo / Senior Airman Aaron Larue Guerrisky)