The other day we were speculating about B-52s being used against ISIS, the context being RWNJ demands that the heavy bombers be so employed. It turns out that the B-52’s heavy partner, the B-1 (aka “Bone) is being used against the terrorist movement, with over 100 sorties so far. The B-1 can potentially carry a heavier bombload than the ‘52 but normally operates with a smaller load of guided weapons, especially the JDAM..
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar — Carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory, the multi-mission B-1B Lancer is the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force and is a key resource for strike operations throughout the Central Command Area of Responsibility.
As a unit, the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., replaced the 9th EBS just shy of a month ago and in that time they have flown just under 100 sorties.
“We continue to employ combat air power in support of the Combined Forces Air Component Commander’s objectives,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Kramer, 34th EBS commander. “We’ve dropped approximately 250 munitions on both deliberate targets, which are targets assigned prior to take off, and dynamic targets, which are targets passed to our Airmen while they are airborne.”
B-1s based here are capable of supporting operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, or anywhere else they are needed. In recent months, the bombers have played a major role in helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces hold or retake key territory in Iraq and Syria, as well as destroying facilities and assets used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The bomber’s range and payload let it conduct multiple strikes with a large number of precision-guided munitions, which would require multiple combat sorties from other aircraft.
“We have accomplished a lot here so far, and we’re definitely up for the challenge that supporting these missions require,” said Hobbs. “We are supporting multiple mission sets across two operations and those mission sets include close air support, armed overwatch and several deliberate targeting missions that are assigned via the air tasking order.”
Operations in Iraq and Syria have provided new mission challenges for veteran B-1 aircrews in the theater. For some, this is their first experience in a combat zone.