B-52s Fly Direct to Middle East in Message to Iran

Two B-52s flew direct to the Middle East on March 7 in a mission to “deter aggression” amid high tensions with Iran.

The B-52s from the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., linked up with aircraft from multiple partner nations, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, according to a U.S. Central Command release.

It marked the fourth time bombers have flown to the Middle East this year, according to CENTCOM.

“The U.S. Air Force routinely moves aircraft and personnel into, out of,  and around the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to meet mission requirements,  and  to train with regional partners, underscoring  the importance of  strategic partnerships,” CENTCOM said in the release.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to rise after Iranian-backed militias conducted multiple rocket attacks on U.S. forces inside Iraq, and two USAF F-15Es in late February struck targets in Syria linked to militias that Tehran supports.

The Air Force no longer bases its bombers at large installations within the Middle East due to increased threats. In January 2020, bombers assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, operated from Diego Garcia because of the threat of Iran’s ballistic missiles. Following that squadron’s deployment, the Air Force started flying long-distance task force missions directly from home bases in the U.S.