B-52 Bomber Ready to Begin Airstrikes against ISIS, Air Force Says

B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress

The Air Force says it's ready to deploy the Cold War-era B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber to the Middle East as part of the military campaign against Islamic State.

"The venerable B-52, with its similar capacity and accuracy and endurance, remains ready and able to meet combatant commander requirements," Air Force Secretary Deborah James told reporters on Monday afternoon during a briefing at the Pentagon.

The Boeing Co.-made aircraft's deployment required carrying out infrastructure improvements in theater that have since been made and awaits final approval, James said. She didn't detail the type of work or where it was done to prepare the area for the iconic bomber, which can carry nuclear or precision-guided conventional ordnance.

More information would be released "at the appropriate time," James said.

The B-52 was built to deploy nuclear weapons anywhere in the world and reflects the primary long-range bomber for much of the Cold War. In the early 1960s, it was modified to carry conventional bombs and deployed to Southeast Asia to target enemy forces in North and South Vietnam.

The B-52 will take over strike missions against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, that have been carried out by the B-1 Lancer, which returned to the U.S. in January for much-needed maintenance and upgrades.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bryantjordan.

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