The U.S. flew B-52 bombers from Louisiana to the Persian Gulf for the second time in three weeks in a show of force against Iran, The New York Times reported Thursday.
While the U.S. has conducted such flights before, it is uncommon for the Pentagon to order them so frequently, The Times reported. The move coincides with President Donald Trump’s push to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by Jan. 15. Long-range flights like this one, which was 36 hours round-trip, have long been used by the U.S. and other powerful allies as a show of airpower and global reach.
A pair of US B-52 bombers flew a show-of-force mission in the Persian Gulf today to deter #Iran and its proxies from carrying out attacks against American troops in the Middle East, reports @nytimes. https://t.co/Uz9RDLJAov
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) December 10, 2020
The massive B-52 Stratofortresses could be seen from the ground in Israel on Thursday morning as they made their return trip. The planes reportedly never breached Iranian airspace. (RELATED: National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien Pledges ‘Very Professional Transition’ To Biden Administration)
TWO B52 just overhead Israel from Gulf back west
60-0022 + friend
— avi scharf (@avischarf) December 10, 2020
Long-range flights like the one on Thursday and Nov. 21 involve numerous in-air refuelings and assistance from allied aircraft. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain all reportedly contributed aircraft to support the effort.
“Potential adversaries should understand that no nation on earth is more ready and capable of rapidly deploying additional combat power in the face of any aggression,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, told The Times.
“The ability to fly strategic bombers halfway across the world in a nonstop mission, and to rapidly integrate them with multiple regional partners, demonstrates our close working relationships and our shared commitment to regional security and stability,” General McKenzie added.
U.S. tensions with Iran have continuously escalated since Trump ordered the execution by drone of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in February. Iran’s lead scientist in nuclear research was also killed in a shootout in early December, though no nation has been proven to be responsible.