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BUFFs deploy to the Middle East in 4th Iran deterrence mission in 2 Months

A U.S. Air Force B-52 from Minot Air Force Base is aerial refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Dec. 30, 2020.

The two-ship deployment also delivers a clear deterrent message to anyone who intends to do harm to Americans or American interests.

US Air Force (USAF) B-52H “Stratofortress” aircrews from the Minot Air Force Base (AFB), N.D.-headquartered 5th Bomb Wing made a deliberate appearance in the Middle East today to underscore the US military’s commitment to regional security and demonstrate a unique ability to rapidly deploy overwhelming combat power on short notice.

The two-ship deployment also delivers a clear deterrent message to anyone who intends to do harm to Americans or American interests.

“The United States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests,” said Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander, US Central Command, in CENTCOM news release. “We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack.”

The move comes days after the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike, a day that some US officials had worried Iran would mark with retaliation but that passed without violence.

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Actually, there is a widespread assessment among diplomats who watch Iran that Tehran has every incentive to avoid provocation that could trigger conflict and undermine President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to follow through on plans to return to the nuclear deal and eventually ease sanctions that Trump used to hobble Iran’s economy.

“I think that Iran knows in a few days the game starts again and if they do something stupid now it doesn’t help their position,” one diplomat told CNN.

This B-52 mission is the third bomber deployment into CENTCOM’s area of operation in the last 45 days and according to Air Force Magazine, the long sortie is the fourth in the past two months and the first of 2021. It comes as CENTCOM has postured the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and other assets in the region. On Jan. 3, the Nimitz was directed by Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller to return to the area as it was heading home, due to threats from Iranian leaders.

Two B-52s on Dec. 30 flew a similar roundtrip sortie from Minot to the region in what CENTCOM called a “deliberate appearance.”

The USAF had based bombers in the region at al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, but ended that practice in early 2020. Air Force Global Strike Command said at the time the move was needed to take the bombers out of Iran’s ballistic missile range.

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Photo credit: Senior Airman Roslyn Ward / U.S. Air Force

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