My Dad was a bomber navigator in the Second World War. While he never went overseas — he was checking out in B-29s when the war ended, and the US Army canceled the orders that would have sent him to the Pacific Theater — he described those old warbirds fondly, especially the B-17. Dad always told the story of flying through towering cumulonimbus clouds in a Flying Fortress, and how the pilot stood the massive bomber on one wing and dove down through a great valley between the cloud banks.
He also lauded the B-17s’ precision bombing capability. Every bomb they dropped, he would say, always hit the ground.
Today the United States Air Force has a whole new set of capabilities where bombers are concerned, including the venerable old B-52, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and of course the Cold-War era B-1, known to its crews as the “Bone.” The current iteration is the B-1B, and recently terror camps in Iraq and Syria have been getting a taste of the Bone’s capabilities, as Fox News’ Rebecca Grant informs us in a recent op-ed:
On Friday, strikes by U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers demolished 85 aimpoints at four Iran proxy militia target areas in Syria and three in Iraq. And they did it launching from Texas.
The White House has promised a multi-layered campaign against the militias backed by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. So far, President Biden and his team are relying on airpower to contain and punish Iran’s proxies.
But let me assure you, Friday’s strikes were just a taste of what the B-1s can unleash.
For the B-1 crews who flew Friday, those regions of Syria and Iraq are like their backyard. B-1s have flown combat missions for Central Command for years, pounding fixed targets, eliminating chemical weapons sites, and flying over friendly ground forces for hours, targeting ISIS insurgents one precision bomb at a time.
Our military has fallen on hard times lately; the Pentagon seems more concerned with DEI than warfighting. But even with our current national woes, the message here to malefactors in the Middle East is still pretty stark; “We can drop precision ordnance on your heads and then sleep in our own beds, in Texas, once we’re done sending you to your 72 virgins.”
Technology not only allows us to hit from arm’s length, but it’s also a great force multiplier.
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Besides the Bone, the USAF still has the B-52 flying missions, and that airframe is over 60 years old; most of those old birds meet the pilots’ joke about being a “collection of spare parts flying in formation.” It’s still useful; if you need a whole lot of bombs delivered and a couple of grid squares wiped off the map, the Buff will do that.
The Bone-B will likely continue in service for some time, although future upgrades may extend its service life, as has been done for the venerable B-52. And if they develop a new mark of the Bone-B, I would suggest naming it the B-1R, (sound it out) because, honestly, we may as well have a little fun with it.