"The B-1s will be receiving much needed modernization and maintenance," James stated in a press conference on Monday. "The venerable B-52, with its similar capacity and accuracy and endurance, remains able and ready to meet combatant requirements."
James admitted the US Air Force had been forced to call in its ageing B-52 bombers into the air campaign because of the wear and tear operations had taken on the more modern, stealth-capable B-1 Lancers.
"This persistent effort against Daesh is taking its toll on our aircraft, our readiness and our airmen… We must also modernize, maintain [and] take care of our people," she argued.
US Air Force General Herbert Carlisle, head of the Air Combat Command, first revealed the B-52s will be sent into the air campaign against the Islamic State at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium on February 26.
The B-52 can carry a 70,000 pound arsenal filled with gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision-guided cruise missiles and other weapons. The aircraft first flew 64 years ago in 1952.