Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force F-15SA Fighters Escort US Air Force B-52 Bombers

Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force F-15SA Escort US Air Force B-52 Amid Iranian Activity in Region

U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortres strategic bomber from Minot Air Force Base fly in formation with U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters and Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force F-15SA jet fighters over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Jan. 7, 2021. The bomber deployment underscores the U.S. military’s commitment to regional security and demonstrates a unique ability to rapidly deploy on short notice. The flight of B-52H bombers over the region was designed to underscore America’s continuing commitment to the Middle East to respond to a potential Iranian attack at U.S. troops in the region.

The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM or CENTCOM) is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the U.S. Department of Defense. It was established in 1983, taking over the previous responsibilities of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF). Its Area of Responsibility includes the Middle East, including Egypt in Africa, and Central Asia and parts of South Asia. The command has been the main American presence in many military operations, including the Persian Gulf War’s Operation Desert Storm, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. CENTCOM forces are deployed primarily in Afghanistan under the auspices of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses fly in formation with U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force F-15SAs. (U.S. Air Force video by Staff Sgt. Sean Carnes)

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons, and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling. The B-52 completed sixty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2015. After being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, the last airplanes are expected to serve into the 2050s.

Royal Saudi Air Force has operated 4 squadrons of F-15C/D (55/19) since 1981, received under Peace Sun. They are based at Dhahran, Khamis Mushayt and Taif air bases. The F-15S is a variant of the F-15E supplied to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) in the 1990s. Saudi Arabia previously sought to buy up to 24 F-15Fs. The F-15S, initially referred to as F-15XP, is almost identical to the USAF F-15E, the only major difference in the AN/APG-70 radar’s performance in synthetic aperture mode. 72 were built from 1996 to 1998. In October 2007, GE announced a US$300 million contract with Saudi Arabia for 65 GE F110-GE-129C engines for the F-15S.

U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses fly in formation with U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force F-15SAs. (U.S. Air Force video by Staff Sgt. Sean Carnes)