B-52s recently struck targets in Afghanistan for the first time since arriving at al Udeid AB, Qatar, in April, and are ramping up sorties targeting ISIS, the Air Force’s top officer said during a visit to the base. B-52s conducted two strikes in Afghanistan, dropping 27 weapons in support of counterterrorism operations, Air Forces Central Command said in a news release. The aircraft have flown almost 270 sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, dropping more than 1,300 bombs during 325 strikes, according to AFCENT. “We got the B-52 back in the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. “We have the B-52 contributing to a significant ground effort and employing weapons in close proximity of friendly troops who are under attack, who are preparing the battlefield in new ways.” The B-52s ?replaced B-1Bs that rotated back to the US for maintenance. The deployment marks the first time in 26 years the Stratofortress is based in the US Central Command area of responsibility. Goldfein said last week there will be a continuous rotation of the two aircraft in Central Command for the foreseeable future.
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.