BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA (KSLA) - B-52 bombers, their crew members and maintenance and support personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base have arrived in Qatar to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the Air Force reports.
The deployment to Al Udeid Air Base is the first under the U.S. Central Command since 1991, when B-52s based in Saudi Arabia supported Operation Desert Storm. The B-52s last were flown operationally in May 2006 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and in May 2015 took part in Exercise Eager Lion, a multilateral exercise in Jordan.
"Every day, the airmen of the 2nd Bomb Wing stand ready to provide unsurpassed firepower to our combatant commanders to hold any enemy at risk around the globe," said Col. Kristin Goodwin, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "Our aircrew, maintainers and support personnel are proud to be supporting U.S. Central Command and eager to continue our legacy of bomber excellence."
Operation Inherent Resolve is the military's name for the conflict against the Islamic State, the Levant terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria and the international community.
The B-52s replace B-1B Lancers stationed in Qatar as part of the 19-nation air coalition operating in the region.
"The B-1 force has been invaluable in meeting U.S. Central Command's requirement for a long-range strike bomber," Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, commander of the 8th Air Force, says in a statement the Air Force released Saturday.
"With the introduction of the B-52, we are bringing another asset to the fight which offers the capacity, accuracy and endurance to continue sustaining that requirement," he continued. "Like the maintainers and air crew before them, I'm confident the warriors from the 2nd Bomb Wing will prove indispensable in the fight against Da'esh."
The B-52 is a long-range heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions, including strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction and maritime operations. In conjunction with coalition forces, deployed B-52 crews will carry out missions in Iraq and Syria as needed.
"The B-52 will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects," said Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command and Combined Forces' air component. "As a multi-role platform, the B-52 offers diverse capabilities including delivery of precision weapons and the flexibility and endurance needed to support the combatant commander's priorities and strengthen the coalition team."
To date, the coalition has conducted more than 33,000 airpower missions as part of the operation. Since June 2014, coalition forces have struck about 459 vehicle-based improvised explosive devices, 776 mortar systems, 1,933 logistics buildings housing those weapons, 662 weapons caches and 1,341 staging areas.
"The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on Da'esh and defend the region in any future contingency," Brown said.