Israeli Air Force Jets Escort US B-52 Bombers Through Israeli Airspace to ‘Deter Aggression’
Israeli Air Force F-15 fighters escorted two US Air Force B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace on Sunday, in an operation that the US military said was intended to “deter aggression.”
The IDF announced the flight in a tweet, saying, “This flight is part of the joint strategic cooperation with US forces, which is pivotal in maintaining the security of Israeli and Middle Eastern skies.”
US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a press release that the display was meant “to deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the US military’s commitment to security in the region.”
“The US Air Force routinely moves aircraft and personnel into, out of, and around the US Central Command area of responsibility to meet mission requirements, and to train with regional partners, underscoring the importance of strategic partnerships,” the release said.
CENTCOM pointedly noted that “this was the fourth bomber deployment into the Middle East this year.”
Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported that the bombers originated from a base in Cyprus and reached an altitude of 25,000 feet while accompanied by British RAF fighters. The bombers entered Israeli airspace at roughly 7:00 am Israel time, where they were escorted by the IAF F-15s.
The bombers flew with the Israeli fighters for roughly seven minutes.
Previous such flights have been described by American officials as a “message to Iran.”
The flight attracted substantial interest among aviation enthusiasts in Israel and around the world, who followed the route using tracking software.
B-52 bombers can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons, and until recent months were rarely flown over the Middle East. They constitute America’s primary bomber aircraft and have been in service in some form since 1955.