The United States could be deploying B-52s, bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons, for the first time against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
The possible deployment was raised at a recent conference of the US Air Force, according to airforcemag.com.
B-52 Stratofortresses bombers, which can carry “gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided (cruise) missiles and joint direct attack munitions”, are likely to replace B-1 bombers.
There have been no announcements about it yet.
As of March 3, the US-led coalition has conducted a total of 10,758 strikes against IS targets under Operation Inherent Resolve — 7,188 in Iraq and 3,570 in Syria.
The US alone has carries 8,243 strikes of them — 4,895 Iraq in and 3,348 in Syria, according to the daily update issued by the National Security Council.
he US might deploy its nuclear-capable B-52 warplanes for the first time to bomb the Islamic State as part of its efforts to step up its campaign against terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
The B-52 Stratofortress could begin dropping bombs on the Islamic State group from April, the Air Force Times reported.
The bombers would be headed to the Central Command area of operations to replace the B-1 Lancers, the last of them returning in January, officials were quoted as saying at an Air Force Association Conference.
The B-1s should return after they receive additional upgrades.
However, it is not clear how many B-52s or the number of airmen, under Air Force Global Strike Command, will be deployed for the potential operation.
The aircraft, which had been used to drop unguided bombs in previous wars, including in Afghanistan, can now be used to provide backup with the accuracy of precision-guided munitions.
If scheduled, it would be the first deployment for the bombers to fight Islamic State targets.
“We’re going to keep the B-52 around. It provides some missions for us that are hard to replicate, primarily the range and payload the air plane provides,” Lt Gen James ‘Mike’ Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said last month.
B-52, nicknamed the “Big Ugly Fat Fella” or BUFF, has a payload capacity of 70,000 pounds, which includes “gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided (cruise) missiles and joint direct attack munitions”.
The US decided to pull out B-1 bombers, one of the most dependable American weapons, from the battle against IS in Syria and Iraq for upgrades.