U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Saturday April 9 joining Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led campaign against the Islamic State group.
The deployment marks the first time the Air Force will use 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.
“The B-52 will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,” Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command and Combined Forces Air Component, said in a release.B-52 bombers have been deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar came as the U.S. military stepped up the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Karns said the bombers would enable U.S. forces to drop one or two munitions in an area, rather than use carpet bombing. “Accuracy is critically important in this war,” he said. “Carpet-bombing would not be effective for the operation we’re in because Daesh doesn’t mass as large groups. Often, they blend into population centers. We always look to minimize civilian casualties.
 A B-1 LAUNCH IS ALWAYS AN IMPRESSIVE SIGHT. The following footage shows B-1 Lancer bombers with the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron launch from Al Udeid airbase, in Qatar, to pound ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The “Bones” (as the B-1s are nicknamed within the pilots community), have taken part in the air strikes on IS positions since the beginning of the air campaign. The heavy bombers have been involved in carpet bombings not seen since the 2003 war in Iraq: according to a recent story published by the AFP news agency, the B-1s had flown 18 percent of all the strike missions against the Islamic State and accounted for 43 percent of the total tonnage of munitions dropped in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan over the last 6-month period. B-1s were frequently spotted over Kobane, where they spent several hours dropping bombs on the extremists who were on the verge of seizing the strategic town in the north of Syria. According to the pilots of the 9th Bomb Squadron who took part in the missions over Kobane and have recently returned to the U.S. after their deployment in Qatar, it was not uncommon for the B-1s to “go Winchester” (a radio codeword which means that the aircraft has dropped all the weapons on board) during air strikes over the Syrian border town.
A single B-1 can drop as many bombs on Syrian and Iraqi targets as 40 attack jets flying off an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, noted retired Air Force general Deptula, making the bomber’s importance to the air campaign obvious.
[February 17 2015 B-1s over Kobani “It didn’t feel like 2015 or 2014” now to hit Syria ]
For four months, the B-1B bombers of the U.S. Air Force’s 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron relentlessly hit Islamic State fighters in eastern Kobani from the air, slowly watching the line of control in that city swing back to Washington’s Kurdish allies. The air tactics developed over Kobani, senior U.S. officials said, will hopefully prove to be a model of what close communication between an allied force on the ground and American aircraft in the skies can do. The lesson of Kobani, officials said, will be tried again when moderate Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. enter the fight against the Islamic State militants inside other parts of Syria.For the B-1 crews, the fight over Kobani was a combination of the tactics they had honed striking insurgents in Afghanistan and a more traditional, conventional battle, with opposing forces fighting over a defined front.“It didn’t feel like 2015 or 2014,” Capt. Saksa said. “It felt like two armies going at it over a set line.”
[November 22 2014 Domino effect: rise of IS in Iraq yields extension of U.S. role in Afghanistan]
The rapid advance of jihadist Islamic State militants in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that Obama pulled troops out without a fully prepared Iraqi military in place, has caused an extension of U.S. role in Afghanistan..
American airstrikes “under certain circumstances” will be authorized to support Afghan military operations. The order also allows for ground troops to “occasionally accompany” Afghan troops on operations against the Taliban.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s openness to a U.S. military presence in the country for at least another year.also contributed to the shift.
[September 24 Afghanistan – pre-war, pre-industrial natural state to return?]
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, apparently is the only official in Washington who dares speak truth to power. In a Sept. 12 speech at Georgetown University, he said that Afghanistan “remains under assault by insurgents and is short of domestic revenue, plagued by corruption, afflicted by criminal elements involved in opium and smuggling, and struggling to execute basic functions of government.” His comments were largely ignored by the American media, and there was no immediate reaction from the Obama administration.
“What reconstruction has done is create a Zombie economy in Afghanistan – a vast percentage of GNP, never mind corruption and customs money, and some employment – that survives only as long as “food” is available. That food of course is the billions spent by the US on failed projects. Once cut off, the economy will simply stumble back to its pre-war, pre-industrial natural state,” noted Peter Van Buren.
[June 10 Afghanistan friendly fire incident – B-1B bomber from Qatar?]
A B-1B Lancer deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota sits on the flight line, May 4 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The multi-mission B-1 is the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force. [Posted 5/8/2014 , 379th Air Expeditionary Wing]
Five U.S. Special Operations fighters were killed in Afghanistan when an American bomber inadvertently attacked their position, officials said June 10.
The B-1 bomber’s errant strike in Zabul Province marked one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents since the start of the war.
[February 21 2012]
Spectre reconnaissance U-28A Aircraft from Afghanistan down at Djibouti
Capt Ryan P. Hall from the 319th Special Operations Squadron, Capt Nicholas S. Whitlock and 1st Lt Justin J. Wilkens from the 34th Special Operations Squadron and Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten from the 25th Intelligence Squadron died Feb. 18 when their U-28A was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa. No other personnel were on board the aircraft. The U-28 was returning from Afghanistan in support of OPERATION Enduring Freedom.
Ryan P. Hal
Captain Hall, 30, was a U-28A pilot on his seventh deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2004, receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp at The Citadel. He had been assigned to the 319th SOS at Hurlburt Field since 2007 and had more than 1,300 combat flight hours.
Captain Whitlock, 29, was also a U-28A pilot and was on his fifth deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2006, receiving his commission through the Officer Training School. He had been assigned to the 319th SOS and then to the 34th SOS at Hurlburt Field since 2008 and had more than 800 combat flight hours.
Lieutenant Wilkens, 26, was a combat systems officer on his third deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2009, receiving his commission through the Air Force Academy. He had been assigned to the 34th SOS at Hurlburt Field since April 2011 and had more than 400 combat hours.
Airman Scholten, 26, was a mission systems operator assigned to the 25th IS at Hurlburt Field since 2009. He enlisted in the Air Force in 2007. He had more than 600 combat hours in six different airframes and was on his third deployment.
“A new squadron was created to fly single-engine U-28As in support of Special Forces such as the Army’s Green Berets and Navy’s SEALs. The 319th Special Operations Squadron, with six U-28As and about 45 airmen to fly and maintain the planes, is stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida, which is the headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command. There are no other PC-12s in the Air Force inventory.”
The U-28A is the United States Air Force variant of the PC-12 for intra-theater support of special operations forces. The 319th Special Operations Squadron is stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida at the headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The 34th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) was activated on 9 April 2010 as the second U-28A unit at Hurlburt. Both squadrons operate as part of the 1st Special Operations Wing/ 1st Special Operations Group (SOG) at Hurlburt. The U-28A / Pilatus PC-12 is also operated by the 318th Special Operations Squadron as part of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.