B-1B Bombers of the U.S. Air Force Have Been Deployed to Saudi Air Base
RIYADH, (BM) – Amid a considerable redeployment of American assets to the Persian Gulf region, the United States Air Force has dispatched B-1B Lancer heavy bombers to the Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, quoting Military Watch.
The B-1B is the only Western supersonic bomber in service, and is capable of deploying a wide array of cruise missiles for standoff strikes against enemy targets. The platform is scheduled to begin retirement in the 2030s, and has suffered from extremely low availability rates in recent years due to age and high maintenance requirements.
The deployment follows the stationing of B-52H heavy bombers to the region in early May – slower lower maintenance platforms which have access to a similarly wide range of advanced munitions. These were accompanied by F-22 Raptor air superiority fighters stationed in Qatar, as well as older F-15C and F-15E fighters and a small unit of F-35s. Other assets deployed have included Patriot missile batteries, amphibious assault ships and carrier strike groups – with a THAAD missile battery simultaneously deployed to Israel where it will be operated by U.S. forces.
The Pentagon notably announced plans to establish a full air expeditionary wing based in Saudi Arabia, although this has notably contradicted repeated calls by President Donald Trump to withdraw American forces from the region. Growing numbers of new assets have been deployed to the region following rising tensions with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been targeted for harsh economic sanctions by the U.S. and accused of supporting Yemeni insurgents in their attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia.
A rise in tensions was notably accompanied by a prolific test by the U.S. Air Force of a GBU-57 penetrator bomb – the kind which would be deployed by American heavy bombers against fortified Iranian targets. Many of Iran’s nuclear facilities and military bases have been fortified with North Korean assistance which makes them impervious to all but the heaviest specialised ordinance.
The presence of American heavy bombers capable of carrying such ordinance is thus critical to any potential attack plan. It remains uncertain to what extent the overall American B-1B fleet will be able to meet its global commitments in light of growing threats due to the extremely low number of Lancers available. In August the U.S. Strategic Command revealed that just six B-1B bombers were mission capable – less than 10% of the fleet of 62 aircraft.
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Source: Military Watch