[Ed. Note: this article is being updated to reflect confirmation by the IDF Spokesperson’s Office to TV7 that while the Israeli Air Force has previously escorted US military aircraft, Sunday was the first time the IAF accompanied American fighter jets].
The IDF has publicly acknowledged that Israeli F-15 fighters accompanied two American B-52 heavy bombers during a flight over the Middle East yesterday.
Both the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli Air Forces (IAF) posted Tweets on their official accounts, reading: “Today (Sunday), Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jets escorted two American B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace. 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.”
A US Army Central Command (CENTOM) Spokesperson confirmed to TV7 that the two US B-52s departed from Minot Air Base in North Dakota, in the fourth such deployment in 2021.
In addition to IAF fighter jets, the pair of US heavy bombers – which are capable of launching nuclear payloads – were also escorted by military aircraft from other nations including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to a CENTCOM statement. While “Iran” was not specifically mentioned, CENTCOM said the flight was intended to “deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the US military’s commitment to security in the region.”
The squadron of planes belonging the US and its regional allies is largely viewed as a display of military might in a visible warning to Iran amid heightening tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The Biden Administration is at an impasse with the Ayatollah regime over a possible revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. While the White House has expressed interest in renegotiating a return to the nuclear deal on condition the Islamic Republic returns to compliance with curbs on its atomic development, Tehran is insistent that Washington must first lift crippling sanctions re-imposed by Trump.
The US also launched a deadly airstrike on Iranian proxy militia in Syria last month, in retaliation for attacks on bases and airfields in neighboring Iraq that house American military personnel and civilian contractors.
It is interesting to note that every US President dating back to Ronald Reagan, who served two terms 1981 – 1989, has ordered the bombardment of countries in the Middle East.