The U.S. Air Force deployed its ultra-stealthy B-2 bombers to strike an Islamic State camp in Libya Thursday, but it is unclear why such an expensive platform was necessary to attack the terrorist group.
The B-2 is one of the Air Force’s most advanced aircraft, capable of delivering a massive amount of ordnance on a target halfway across the world with almost no radar signature. But the aircraft’s advanced technology comes with a hefty price tag, costing U.S. taxpayers as much as $135,000 per flight hour. Given that the B-2 is permanently based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the travel time to Libya alone racked up quite a bill.
Pentagon officials do not readily advertise which weapons platforms are used in air strikes under normal circumstances. Additionally, the U.S. military has a wide array of less expensive weapons platforms stationed in the Middle East and North Africa, which can handle a Libya-sized contingency at a fraction of the flight time and at substantially lower cost.
“Given the number killed, it’s clear heavy bombers were needed for such a large target, but using the B-2 for this [operation] is strange since we have other bomber types that would have done the job for less,” Patrick Megahan, manager of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies military technology website Military Edge, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The strikes targeted an ISIS camp 28 miles southwest of Sirte, a Libyan city which until recently served as the terrorist group’s stronghold in the country. “Several dozen” ISIS terrorists were killed in the attacks, a defense official told the Associated Press, adding that the mission was intended to destroy the ISIS remnants who escaped Sirte in December.
“While we are still evaluating the results of the strikes, the initial assessment indicates they were successful,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in a statement.
The U.S. committed to supporting the Libyan Government of National Accord after the toppling of former dictator Muammar Gaddaffi. Cook noted that the strike exemplifies U.S. support of the GNA in its fight against ISIS.
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