B-2 bomber officials this month marked the anniversaries of three combat engagements by the stealth bomber fleet, according to a release from Whiteman AFB, Mo., home of combat-ready B-2s. On March 22, 2011, three B-2s took off from Whiteman and flew thousands of miles to Libya where they bombed hardened aircraft shelters near Sirte in the opening days of Operation Odyssey Dawn, resulting in the near-complete destruction of the air force of then Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, states the release. Eight years earlier, on March 20, 2003, B-2s operating from Whiteman and forward locations struck high-value targets in Baghdad during the opening salvos of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Four years prior to that, on March 14, 1999, B-2s became the first manned aircraft to attack targets in then-Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force. “Our people deserve to be proud of the outstanding missions they contributed to in each of these conflicts,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of Whiteman’s 509th Bomb Wing. (Whiteman report by Capt. John Severns) (See also Bombers over Libya and With Stealth in the Balkans from Air Force Magazine’s archives.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.