TechU.S. retaliates with B-1B bombers and precision weapons against Iran-backed militias

U.S. retaliates with B‑1B bombers and precision weapons against Iran-backed militias

The American B-1B Lancer taking off to conduct attacks on targets in Iraq and Syria.
The American B-1B Lancer taking off to conduct attacks on targets in Iraq and Syria.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | U.S. Central Command
2:39 PM EST, February 3, 2024

The U.S. retaliatory attacks involved various weaponry, most notably strategic B-1B Lancer bombers carrying cruise missiles. Their targets included command centers, drone and rocket arsenals, as well as their production facilities. It is reported that over 125 precision weapons were used in these operations.

B-1B Lancer: A Cold War relic with considerable firepower

The U.S. forces utilized strategic B-1B Lancer bombers—originally introduced in October 1986 for their large payload capacity. These bombers, like the B-52, currently serve as carriers for cruise missiles.

Designed for its ability to achieve a speed of 1.25 Mach at altitudes up to 59,055 feet, the B-1B Lancer can carry an impressive 75,000 pounds of weaponry across three bomb bays. When equipped with cruise missiles, it can transport a total of 24.

While the theoretical range of the B-1B bomber is 7,456 miles, the range decreases when fully loaded. For example, a payload weighing 35,273 pounds reduces the range to under 6,214 miles.

U.S.'s supersonic missiles

The B-1B Lancer bombers were employed to deliver cruise missile strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria. Although the exact type remains undisclosed, it's known that the American aerodynes typically carry AGM-158B JASSM-ER cruise missiles, commissioned into service in 2014. Comparable to the TAURUS KEPD 350 missiles, the AGM-158B JASSM-ERs boast a greater range of 621 miles.

The subsonic JASSM missiles, including the ER variant built with stealth technology, share identical physical dimensions—they are 13.98 feet long, have a wingspan of 8.86 feet, and weigh just over a ton. The ER variant, however, features a larger internal fuel reserve and a more fuel-efficient engine. Both variants use a penetrating WDU-42/B warhead weighing 951 pounds that can detonate on impact, with a delay or in mid-air, scattering lethal fragments.

The missile guidance system combines satellite and inertial navigation, supplemented during the final phase of flight by an optoelectronic head with a fourth-generation infrared sensor. This sensor captures the thermal image of the target, guiding the warhead with an accuracy of less than 9.8 feet. This combination constitutes a highly effective system and poses significant challenges to countries with modern anti-aircraft systems.

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