A B-1B Lancer takes off from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., on Oct. 24, 2019, in support of US strategic objectives. Air Force photo by A1C Christina Bennett.
The B-1B Lancers that deployed to Saudi Arabia Oct. 24 have already returned home to Ellsworth AFB, S.D.
The unannounced, short-term deployment was the first time Lancers were sent to the Middle East since returning from a combat deployment in March. The four B-1Bs from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons flew alongside F-22s and E/A-18G Growlers before touching down at Prince Sultan Air Base.
To get there, the B-1s were refueled by one KC-10 from Travis AFB, Calif., that is deployed to the Middle East. Two KC-135s from US Air Forces in Europe supplied fuel as they passed the continent, and two more KC-135s deployed to Air Forces Central Command refueled them again as they approached Saudi Arabia, according to Air Mobility Command. All told, the four B-1s were each refueled six times to be able to complete the direct flight.
“This is what we train for, and is what sets us apart,” Col. David A. Doss, 28th Bomb Wing commander, said in a release. “Let there be no doubt, our team and our B-1s always stand ready to answer our nation’s call at a moment’s notice.”
The brief visit to Saudi Arabia was part of an increased US presence at the base, which has also included F-22s, Growlers, and a Patriot battery, amid tensions with Iran and a rapidly evolving situation in Syria. The Pentagon has announced plans to deploy two more fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing, more Patriot batteries, and a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System to the country.