Several B-52s from Barksdale AFB, La., arrived at Al Udeid AB, Qatar, on April 9 where they will operate in support of the anti-ISIS campaign. The deployment marks the first time in 26 years the Stratofortress will be based in the US Central Command area of responsibility, though the long-range heavy bombers did support Operation Enduring Freedom in May 2006 and Exercise Eager Lion—a CENTCOM-led multilateral exercise in Jordan—in May 2015. B-52s operating out of Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm were the last to be based in the AOR, according to an April 9 release. “The first thing about the B-52 is the historical presence it brings with it. When an enemy sees a B-52 fly overhead it strikes fear into their hearts, and that’s something that we absolutely want to take advantage of,” said one of the deployed pilots, who the Air Force referred to only as Capt. Ryan, in a video interview. The B-52, which can carry about 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance, can perform a variety of roles, including strategic attack and close air support. “The B-52 will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,” said Air Forces Central Command boss Lt. Gen. Charles Brown. “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 commanders’ priorities and strengthen the coalition team.”
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.