Welcome the Buff to the ISIS air war.
The BUFFs (as the strategic bombers are dubbed) recently joined the coalition of 19 countries supporting Operation Inherent Resolve that has conducted more than 33,000 airpower missions striking about 459 vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, 776 mortar systems, 1,933 logistics buildings housing these weapons, 662 weapons caches, and 1,341 staging areas (figures updated to Apr. 9, 2016).
The B-52s targeted an ISIL weapons storage facility in Qayyarah, Iraq.
Editor’s note: the video that showed the air strike on the target in Iraq through the B-52’s targeting pod has since been removed. The top screenshot is all what has remained available of that first weapons drop in Iraq. Interestingly, the same video was also included in a tweet by the OIR Spokesperson, that has been deleted as well.
The deployment of the BUFFs marks the first time the Air Force is using the Cold War-era warplanes — from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana — in the counter-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria. The service did not disclose the exact number of bombers it deployed, although six B-52s,using radio callsigns Mighty 71 -72 on Apr. 8, followed by Mighty 81-82 on Apr. 11 and by Mighty 83-84 on Apr. 12, 2016, were monitored while enroute to the Middle East, along with another pair, Mighty 75-76, that were forced to cancel their transatlantic flight because of a tech issue of one of the supporting KC-10s on Apr. 10.
The B-52 will conduct the “same type of precision strikes that we’ve seen for the last 20 months here in this theater,” according to the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren.
Crews will be available to carry out missions in both Iraq and Syria as needed to support air tasking order requirements, according to a statement released at the time the bomber arrived in Qatar.
Thw deployment is also the first basing of the B-52s in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in 26 years. The B-52s were based in Saudi Arabia supporting Operation Desert Storm. The B-52s were last flown operationally during Operation Enduring Freedom in May 2006, and during Exercise Eager Lion, a USCENTCOM-led multilateral exercise in Jordan, in May 2015. During the latter, B-52 from 2nd Bomb Wing, from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, dropped some 500-lb GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) bombs during the “monumental military demonstration” that was the highlight of the combined live fire demonstration in Wadi Shadiya, Jordan, May 18, 2015. Noteworthy, that was the first participation of the strategic bombers to Eager Lion; a first that saw the BUFFs fly a 30-plus hour, 14,000 mile nonstop mission to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.