Coalition and regional partner air forces joined a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress and two F-22 Raptors on a presence patrol mission across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility on March 29. The bomber’s flight originated at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, and flew over the East Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula, and the Red Sea before departing the region. The non-stop B-52H mission included fighter escorts from the Royal Air Force and regional partner nations, enhancing regional stability and security through a show of combined strength and capability.
The flow of airpower throughout the theater during this presence patrol was significant due to the addition of F-22s, which entered the USCENTCOM AOR in February. The B-52H and their aircrew are assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and flew the mission under Air Force Global Strike Command’s bomber task force mission-set. USCENTCOM, through Ninth Air Force (AFCENT), has facilitated two bomber task force missions in 2022 as a demonstration of the U.S.-led coalition’s commitment to promoting regional stability. The last bomber-led mission across the Central Region involved one B-52H and occurred on Feb. 14, 2022.
“With each bomber task force mission, AFCENT and partner air forces demonstrate the strength of regional airpower,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, Ninth Air Force (AFCENT) commander. “An unprecedented nine countries flew with our B-52 today, so this mission signaled our ability to quickly bring forces to the theater and operate seamlessly with our partners during a training event that signals our combined commitment to regional stability and defense.”
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 around 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling. Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept them in service despite the advent of later, more advanced strategic bombers, including the Mach 2+ B-58 Hustler, the variable-geometry B-1 Lancer, and the stealth B-2 Spirit. The B-52 completed 60 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.