At least two US B-52 bombers, led by military jets from Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, flew over the Persian Gulf on Sunday, demonstrating military might in the Middle East as tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated. The strategic strategy of the B-52 Stratofortress, which marks the military alliance between the US, Israel and the Gulf, is a warning after Iranian hardliners attacked the Israeli-owned cargo ship under the Bahamian flag, MV Helios Ray, in the Gulf of Oman and raised security concerns have voiced in the region. The United Kingdom (UK) maritime trade operations operated by the British Navy reported that rocket explosions in the Gulf of Oman forced cargo ships to carry ballast or sail to the nearest ports.
Today (Sunday) Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jets escorted two American B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace.
This flight is part of a joint strategic collaboration with the U.S. Forces that is vital to maintaining the security of the Israeli and Middle Eastern skies. pic.twitter.com/CViOa3LvBT
– Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 7, 2021
The maritime intelligence company Dryad Global and the troops stationed in the strategic passage identified the cargo ship hit by Iranian-backed Houthis as Israel’s MV Helios Ray, subject to anonymity. Satellite tracking data released by the intelligence firm showed the Israeli ship nearly entered the Arabian Sea around 6:00 a.m. GMT when a powerful rocket-like explosion exploded near Dammam, Saudi Arabian waters, and the cargo returned raced towards the Strait of Hormuz.
[The Israeli-owned cargo ship, Helios Ray, sits docked in port. Credit: AP]
Israel’s Channel 13 later broadcast images, citing unnamed military sources and blaming the explosive attack on Tehran. Following mounting bilateral tensions, Israeli F-15 fighter jets escorted American B-52s early Sunday as they passed through Israeli airspace, despite Iranian aggression and recent attacks on US military bases connected to the allied Iranian militias . This marked the first time Israeli fighter planes maneuvered with Air Force pilots from Saudi Arabia and Qatar accompanying the US Air Force’s B-52H Stratoforresses.
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“Tense Encounters” with Iranian Ships
The US Central Command later issued an official statement that did not directly name Tehran that the fighter was flying a multinational patrol “to deter aggression and to reassure partners and allies of the US military’s commitment to security in the region” . The Israel Defense Forces also shared updated promotional photos of Israel Air Force F-15 fighter jets escorting the US bombers through the aerospace industry. “This flight is part of a joint strategic collaboration with the US Forces that is vital to maintaining the security of Israel and the Central Eastern Skies,” said IDF. Meanwhile, the US 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, has Navy stationed in Middle Eastern territorial waters, stepped up patrols and had tense encounters with Iranian ships recently.
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Read: Iran Agrees to Speak to IAEA Technical Experts
(Photo credit: Twitter / @ IDF)