Saudi Royal Air Force fighter jets escort B-52H bombers across Kingdom airspace
Two Saudi Royal Air Force fighter jets escorted the US B-52H Stratofortress bombers across the Kingdom’s airspace on Thursday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.
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The bombers which are “characterized by the ability to launch a large load of multiple weapons and hit their targets accurately in the depth of enemy territory,” according to SPA, flew over a swath of the Middle East, sending what US officials said was a direct message of deterrence to Iran.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its international partners are constantly working to improve the harmony between them, as employees of the Royal Saudi Air Force work with their counterparts from allied countries to achieve integration between communications, planning and technical systems,” the press agency added.
A pair of U.S. Air Force B-52H "Stratofortresses" assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base operated in the CENTCOM area of responsibility with other @usairforce and regional partner aircraft in the second mission in as many months. Dec. 10, 2020 @USAFCENT https://t.co/zpZBxQ5uh7 pic.twitter.com/xZ5GzHnIo8— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 10, 2020
The flight of the two massive B-52H bombers over the region, the second such mission in less than a month, was designed to underscore America's continuing commitment to the Middle East even as President Donald Trump's administration withdraws thousands of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The long-range heavy bombers, which can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons, are a formidable sight and are flown less frequently in the Middle East than smaller combat aircraft, such as American fighter jets. Adversaries often complain about bomber flights in their region, deeming them a provocative show of force.