Israeli F-15 fighter jets escorted a US B-52 bomber that was headed to the Persian Gulf through Israeli airspace on Monday, The Times of Israel reported. The B-52 flew made a roundtrip to the Middle East from the UK in an apparent show of force aimed at Iran.
“The flight was held as part of close cooperation with the US military, which represents a significant element in ensuring the security of the State of Israel’s airspace and the Middle East,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.
The US military said the flight was meant to demonstrate the “US Air Force’s ability to seamlessly operate across combatant commands.” The nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress was accompanied by two US F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets.
The provocation comes as the US and Iran appear to be nearing an agreement to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, although it’s still not clear if Washington is willing to lift the necessary sanctions on Iran.
Israel is strongly opposed to the JCPOA and has been threatening to attack Iran if the deal is revived. In a recent phone call, President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that the US supports Israel’s “freedom of action” against Iran.