03/06/2015: Airmen from the 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit maintaining the B-1B Lancer at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
Credit:379th Air Expeditionary Wing:2/25/15
In a story by Patrick Megahan published on Augusut 29, 2014:
As the air war over northern Iraq expanded earlier this month, Pentagon officials for first time acknowledged that land-based bombers have begun conducting strikes against the Islamic State, or ISIS, as it is formerly known.
Though the specific bomber type was not named, B-1B Lancers are widely believed to be the bombers providing much needed air support to Kurdish forces that retook the Mosul Dam.
The appearance of the B-1 in Iraq should come as no surprise, as its long-range, all-weather, day or night, and low- or high-altitude capabilities have made it one of the most heavily used strike aircraft in America’s air armada.
B-1s of the 7th Bomb Wing from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar earlier this month. The 350 service members and their B-1s replaced members of the 28th Bomb Wing, which also flies the B-1, as part of a routine six-month rotation, which both units have shared since the opening of the Afghan War in late 2001. With the U.S. still in Afghanistan and now returning to Iraq, the 7th will take on a challenge that only long-range bombers like the B-1 can meet: be on call to support operations in two different theaters while still based in Qatar.
Despite this unique ability, the B-1 has repeatedly been the target of budget hawks. Most recently, it was named as potential collateral damage in the effort to save the A-10 ‘Warthog.’ But its current deployment and continued development demonstrate how profound a mistake it would have been to discontinue the B-1.