KC-10s from JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., refuel a B-52 that deployed earlier this week as part of a Bomber Task Force for US Central Command. Air Force photo.
Two more B-52s deployed to US Central Command on Thursday, bringing the bomber task force in the Middle East to a total of four aircraft from Barksdale AFB, La.
The Stratofortresses touched down Thursday evening local time.
The bombers were deployed to CENTCOM along with the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group this week in response to what Pentagon officials said was “very, very credible” intelligence that Iran was preparing to attack US forces or interests in the region.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told lawmakers on May 8 that US officials received the intelligence on Friday and decided over the weekend to deploy the additional forces as a message to Iran that the US would respond to any attack with force.
CENTCOM boss USMC Gen. Kenneth McKenzie emphasized that the US is not seeking a fight, but “if a fight is to be had, … it won’t be a fair fight.”
The first deployment of the B-52s from Barksdale’s 20th Bomb Squadron was supported by two KC-10s from JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
KC-10s from JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., refuel a B-52 that deployed earlier this week as part of a Bomber Task Force for US Central Command. Video by A1C Shay Stuart/USAF
The tankers offloaded about 180,000 pounds of fuel to help the bombers cross the ocean en route to the Middle East.
Photographs posted by Air Forces Central Command show the bombers touching down at Al Udeid AB, Qatar.