Shortly before President Obama left office, he authorized one last big airstrike in Libya. One of the most surprising details about the air raid was that it began in Missouri. The pilots flew their B-2 Bombers 32 hours, non-stop, to bomb the ISIS camps near the Libyan town of Sirte.
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The two B-2s that flew this mission carried 80 guided bombs. Their trip originated from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The pilots flew 5,700 miles before reaching their target: ISIS training camps off the Libyan coast.
During the 32 hour flight, the B-2s had to refuel twice. The pilots, facing fatigue on the long flight, had to nap in shifts. The experience has been written up in the latest issue of Popular Mechanics.
The article reports that the mission was a resounding success, and that many ISIS fighters were killed.
“Every B-2 pilot on the base wanted to go on this mission,” one pilot told Popular Mechanics. “Myself included.”
The pilots train for the missions by regulating their work habits and sleep schedules so that they’re acclimated to the long and confined conditions before the flight ever takes off. The planes even have a small cot built into the cockpit for sleeping in shifts.
The stealth bombers before take-off.
Each B-2 carried 80 500-pound GPS guided bombs. This mission reportedly required the pilots to drop their bombs, then circle to assess the damage. If the first round wasn’t successful, they went back in again.
Much has been made about the down-sizing of the military under Obama’s leadership, and the Air Force reports that they own only 20 of the Northrop Grumman B-2s. Part of this is the steep pricetag: $737million each.