PHOTOS: B-52 Flies over Red Sea and Arabian Peninsula

Air Force B-52 bombers roared over the Arabian Peninsula twice last week, flying alongside an American MC-130J and allied fighters during bomber task force missions.

The Stratofortresses, originally from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., came from RAF Fairford, U.K., where they are currently deployed for a bomber task force. 

The June 12 and June 14 flights “incorporated fighter escorts from several coalition nations,” Air Forces Central said in a release, though they did not disclose what nations flew alongside the B-52. The release noted that the flights included passes over the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf. 

“Bomber Task Force missions highlight the U.S.’s ability to rapidly field combat airpower while enhancing training opportunities and interoperability for regional allies and partners operating alongside U.S. forces,” the release stated.

On at least one flight, the B-52 was joined by a U.S. Special Operations Command-operated MC-130J. AFCENT noted in its release that the MC-130J took part in familiarization training this spring, with Airmen in the Middle East orienting themselves on “palletized effects”—cruise missiles on a pallet dropped out the back of cargo aircraft. 

The B-52s’ tour over the Middle East comes as the region remains on edge. Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza continues, and Houthi rebels in Yemen have intensified their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Over the past several days, U.S. Central Command said it struck several Houthi missile launchers, sensors and drones, though it did not disclose what assets it used to conduct the strikes. 

In April, B-1 bombers on a rotation in Spain deployed to Turkey for exercises, bringing them close to the Middle East. In February, B-1s flew from the continental U.S. to take part in dozens of airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. And last November, B-1s flew three missions in CENTCOM over the course of eight days. 

It’s been a little while longer since a B-52 flew over the region—in March 2023, a B-52 from Minot was escorted by fighters from seven different countries during a bomber task force mission.