B-52 Stratofortress bombers prepare to pound ISIS

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress peels off after refueling from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 15, 2017. The 340th EARS extended the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists by delivering fuel to U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and a B-52 Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

The “Buff” may soon start pounding Daesh.

The U.S. Air Force is sending the B-52 Stratofortress bomber to drop bombs on ISIS beginning beginning next month.

The Buffs (Big Ugly Fat Fellas) would be headed to the Central Command area of operations to replace the B-1 Lancers, the last of those returned stateside in January, after a 6-month deployment worth 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets in 490 sorties. The B-1s could return to the Mideast this summer after they receive additional cockpit upgrades.

It’s not clear where the B-52s will be based. Whilst the B-1s operated out of Al Udeid in Qatar, it is possible that the +60 years old bombers will be based in one of their “traditional” airbase in the region: possibly Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, that hosts the Stratofortresses on a regular basis.

Actually, the B-52s are capable to perform round-trip missions directly from their homebase at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, as demonstrated in May 2015, when two B-52Hs showed their ability to do on a range in Jordan: a 14,000 miles 30-hour trip to drop some 500-lb GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) bombs.

But considered the number of mission amassed by the B-1s, it is quite likely that the B-52s will be based not too far from the “danger zone.”

Dealing with the type of mission the B-52s will carry out in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, it will probably be the same of the B-1s: Close Air Support and Air Interdiction delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), including JDAMs on ISIS positions.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.