U.S Central Command has reported that the B-52 Stratofortress has just flown it’s first successful mission against ISIS in Iraq. The strike targeted a weapon storage and production facility in Qayyarah, Iraq using precision weapons.
In the video posted below, you can see the actual strike take place.
The B-52 was deployed to Iraq amid much fanfare last month to replace the B-1Bs that were previously operating in the region. Strategic bombers like the B-52 and the B-1B have a very long loiter times . The B-52 can fly over the battlefield for hours providing fire support for troops, or waiting for a target to reveal themselves.
Over the years the Stratofortress has become a somewhat infamous symbol of American power. having been in service for over 60 years, it was originally designed to deliver intercontinental nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union in the 1950s. It has since become known for it huge bomb capacity and carpet bombing efforts during the Vietnam War in operations like Arc Light. To cope with modern air defenses the Stratofortress was later reworked to deliver long range cruise missiles, allowing it enough stand-off range to avoid being shot down.
Modern B-52s like the ones now flying over Iraq have been upgraded to deliver smart munitions like the JDAM from external hard points. Because of these upgrades the B-52H has an bomb load and loiter capability similar to the B-1B. It’s downfalls are mostly related to it’s huge radar cross-section and subsonic top speed. Neither of these things are particularly relevant to it’s current role, as ISIS lacks advanced air defense systems.
Unlike the it’s carpet bombing ancestors, the newer B-52s are as capable and accurate as modern strike aircraft. This is bad for ISIS and good for both Iraqi civilians and the DoD’s public relations office.
Photo and Video via DoD and Wikipedia Commons respectively.