Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, arrive at Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar on March 31, 2018.
The two B-1 bombers returned to the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) to replace the B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers, US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a statement.
The B-52s flew 1,800+ sorties and dropped nearly 12,000 weapons against ISIS and Taliban targets since 2016.
Rockwell B-1B Lancer
Rockwell B-1B Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber used by the United States Air Force (USAF). It is commonly called the “Bone” (originally from “B-One”).
It is one of three strategic bombers in the USAF fleet as of 2017, the other two being the B-2 Spirit “Stealth Bomber”, and the B-52 Stratofortress long-range bomber.
Originally developed to carry atomic weapons, the bomber — converted to its exclusively conventional combat role in the mid-1990s — is no longer nuclear-capable. It can, however, carry the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the USAF’s inventory.
The bomber first served in combat during Operation Desert Fox in 1998 and again during the NATO action in Kosovo the following year. The B-1B has supported U.S. and NATO military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Air Force had 66 B-1Bs in service as of September 2012. The B-1B is expected to continue to serve into the 2030s, with the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider to begin replacing the B-1B after 2025.