Two B-52H bombers took off from Louisiana for a show-of-strength flight over the Middle East on Thursday, sending what US officials said was a clear message of deterrence aimed at Iran.
The mission by the two massive Stratofortress aircraft comes as the US military assesses there is an increased chance for actions or miscalculations by the Islamic Republic, a senior military official told NBC News.
Flying from Barksdale Air Force Base, the two hulking strategic bombers embarked on a roughly 36-hour mission that took them across Europe, through the northern Red Sea, across Saudi Arabia and into the Persian Gulf, the network reported.
The mission included a loop around Qatar, as the jets stayed closer to the western side of the Arabian Gulf and outside Iranian airspace, according to the senior US military official with knowledge of the region.
Aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar flew with the bombers during parts of the flight, the second such mission in less than a month.