USAF B-2 bombers receive refuelling support for anti-ISIS mission in Libya

The US Air Force's (USAF) KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft provided aerial refuelling support to B-2 Spirit bombers, which were carrying out an airstrike against ISIS in Libya.

Two B-2 Spirit bombers, from the 509th Bomb Wing, dropped 500lb GPS-guided bombs on the camps on 18 January.

The camps housed ISIS militants, who were being trained to attack the US and allied interests in North Africa and Europe.

18th Air Force operations planner lieutenant colonel James Hadley said: “Our goal was to find the aircraft to do the mission.

“The mobility enterprise flexed to put tankers from the US, US European and US Central Commands toward this effort.

"Everybody had a part in making this work, and it was very successful.”

The B-2s received refuelling support from a total of 15 tankers, during their 30-hour round-trip flight from their home base at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) in Missouri to the target.

Planners at 18th Air Force and the 618th Air Operations Center at Scott AFB were responsible for coordinating the tanker mission in order to ensure that the refuelling aircraft were at the right place at the right time to get the bombers to and from the ISIS training camps.

"The B-2s received refuelling support from a total of 15 tankers, during their 30-hour round-trip flight."

The 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey and 100th Air Refueling Wing contributed tankers to the refuelling mission.

The bomber's low-observability provides it greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing its range and a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors, the USAF stated.

It can travel approximately 9,600km without refuelling.

Image: A KC-135 Strantotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing refuels a B-2 Spirit. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kate Thornton.