B-52s as well as F-15Cs and F-35As have conducted “deterrence missions” in the CENTCOM AOR recently.
As already reported, four B-52 bombers deployed from Barksdale AFB, Lousiana, to Al Udeid, Qatar, as part of a BTF (Bomber Task Force) created in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” related to Iran. The first two of four B-52 bombers, radio callsign “MYTEE 51-52” landed in Qatar on May 8; the second “wave” (MYTEE 53-54) followed on the same route on May 9.
The bombers are part of a build up in the region aimed at deterring unspecified threats from Iran and regional proxies, that include the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing deployed from RAF Lakenheath, UK. All these forces have joined the assets already in the region, including the six F-35A Lightning II, belonging to the active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah and deployed since Apr. 15, 2019, to Al Dhafra, UAE, that have carried out their first air strike on Apr. 30.
On May 12, both the F-15s and F-35s, as well as the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron’s B-52 have carried out deterrence missions aimed “to defend American forces and interests in the region”: for the Stratofortress aircraft this was also the first mission of the Bomber Task Force deployed to U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
The photographs released by AFCENT provide some details about the configuration of these assets for yesterday’s mission. The B-52 aircraft (at least, the one depicted in the images) externally carried only empty bomb racks and an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod) under the right wing.
The F-15s were armed with (6) AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) and, most probably, since they carried it when they deployed but it’s not visible in the latest shots, a ventral Sniper ATP.
The F-35A aircraft were in the same (external) configuration shown in the photos of the their baptism of fire, including the external AIM-9X Sidewinder AAM (Air-to-Air Missile) – in this case just one – and the radar reflectors/RCS (Radar Cross Section) enhancers.
H/T to @ryankakiuchan for the heads-up.