(KOTA TV) - The B-1 bomber’s return to the Mideast was timely as several participated in the U.S. led attack on Syria Saturday morning.
An Ellsworth B-1 bomber crew prepares to take off from its base in Qatar to strike targets in Syria following that country's use of chemical weapons against civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)
The attack follows the use of deadly chemical weapons against Syrian civilians by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. More than 40 people were reportedly killed in that chemical in Douma, which is near the capital of Damascus.
The strikes, carried out by U.S., British and French forces, targeted the Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities, hitting a research facility as well as storage sites.
Two Ellsworth 347th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1s fired 19 JASSMs. This, according to the Air Force, was the first combat use of the cruise missile. The Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile is a standoff weapon that can be fired from outside of air defense ranges. The B-1s could hit targets without having to penetrate Syrian air space.
The B-1s, as well as other aircraft, accomplished the missions without any losses. Russia claims about 70 percent of the cruise missiles fired were shot down. The Pentagon, however, states that none of the 105 missiles fired were intercepted and that Syrian air defenses were basically ineffective.
Two Ellsworth Air Force Base B-1s and crews had recently redeployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar after a critical upgrade in the bomber’s warfighting capabilities. See: Ellsworth B-1 crews back in the fight against terrorists.