US B-1B Bomber Flies Over Mideast Amid Iran Tensions

November 1st, 2021 - by Jason Ditz /

Fighter Jets from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
and Israel Joined in Overflight Provocation

Jason Ditz/

(October 31, 2021) — One of the American B-1B bombers recently deployed to Diego Garcia has circumnavigated the Arabian Peninsula, in something that the US is calling a “presence patrol.”

Mostly this was about a show of sending a bomber toward Iran. Allies participated, as Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia all sent warplanes to participate in the operation, escorting the bomber at different points.

The flight started at Diego Garcia, went to Yemen and up the Red Sea, cut across Israel and Jordan, and then back around the Persian Gulf and down to Diego Garcia again.

Diego Garcia is a remote island in the Indian Ocean. The British expelled the inhabitants to make room for the US to use it as a base. The US has continued to expand the base in recent years, mostly targeting Iran.

US B-1B Bomber Leads Coalition Jets
To Encircle the Arabian Peninsula

Tyler Rogoway / The Drive

 (October 31, 2021) — One of the B-1B bombers that had deployed to the remote Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia early this month—the first deployment to the island for the type in over a decade and a half—just flew a unique mission that circumnavigated the Arabian Peninsula. During the long-range sortie, various allies’ fighters joined up with the ‘Bone’ and its accompanying tankers, resulting in the absolutely stunning photos taken by Senior Airman Jerreht Harris seen below. You can read all about the B-1B’s current deployment to Diego Garcia in our past coverage of it here.

The “presence patrol” route around the US Central Command’s area of responsibility went as follows, according to the USAF:
The flight was a five-hour, non-stop multilateral mission with participation from air forces to include: Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. … Multiple partner nations’ fighter aircraft accompanied the B-1B Lancer at different points during the flight, which flew over the Gulf of Aden, Bab el-Mandeb Strait, Red Sea, Suez Canal, Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman before departing the region.

Here is a very approximate version of the route the B-1 took. It is also possible that they staged for this particular mission out of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, but the aircraft themselves are bedded-down in Diego Garcia:

Some of the most interesting images of the set are of the B-1B being escorted by Israeli F-15 Baz fighters. The highly modified F-15A/B/C/Ds, still some of Israel’s most prized air-combat assets, are seen with a unique loadout that we did an entire story on last March after they escorted another US bomber on patrol.  

The forward deployment of the B-1s to the highly strategic island of Diego Garcia puts them in an ideal position to respond to contingencies and execute training and presence missions in the Middle EastAfrica, and the Western Pacific region. According to satellite imagery, it appears the B-1 force on the island includes four jets as well as at least as many KC-135 tankers. 

This is unlikely to be the last we will see of the B-1s during their historic deployment back to Diego Garcia. We will let you know where they show up next.

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