Washington (CNN)A US Air Force B-52 bomber launched a record-setting series of strikes this week in northern Afghanistan — dropping 24 precision-guided munitions on Taliban fighting positions during 96 hours of air operations “to destroy insurgent revenue sources, training facilities, and support networks,” according to US Forces Afghanistan.
The 24 precision-guided munitions dropped by the B-52 Stratofortress are the most ever dropped by one of the Air Force’s oldest active aircraft, the service said in a press release. Pence makes surprise trip to AfghanistanWeighing 185,000 pounds, the B-52 first entered service in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War — originally designed to serve as long-range, high-altitude intercontinental nuclear bombers that could strike deep into the Soviet Union.The newest B-52 entered service in 1962, and the 159-foot plane became a Cold War icon.The planes have been modified heavily since the end of the Cold War and have been upgraded with precision-guided missiles, electronics and high-tech sensors. Each aircraft can carry up to 70,000 pounds of bombs, mines and missiles, according to the Air Force’s official fact sheet.Read More Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetF-22 Raptor – The twin-engine F-22 stealth fighter, flown by a single pilot and armed with a 20mm cannon, heat-seeking missiles, radar-guided missiles and radar-guided bombs, can perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The service has 183 of the Raptors, which went operational in 2005.Hide Caption 1 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetB-52 Stratofortress – The first versions of this long-range heavy bomber flew in 1954. A total of 744 were built, the last of those in 1962. The Air Force maintains 58 B-52s in the active force and 18 in the Reserve. A single B-52 can carry 70,000 pounds of mixed munitions, including bombs, missiles and mines. The eight-engine jets have a range of 8,800 miles.Hide Caption 2 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetThe single-engine F-35A is the Air Force’s eventual replacement for the F-16 and the A-10. The supersonic jets, which will be able to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks, are just beginning to enter the Air Force fleet. Here, an F-35 Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, flys at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017.Hide Caption 3 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetB-2 Spirit bomber – The four-engine B-2 heavy bomber has stealth properties that make it hard to detect on radar. Flown by a crew of two, it has an unrefueled range of 6,000 miles and can deliver both conventional and nuclear bombs. Twenty B-2s are in the active inventory. They joined the fleet in 1997.Hide Caption 4 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetB-1B Lancer bomber – The four-engine jet can fly at 900 mph and carry the largest payload of bombs and missiles in the Air Force inventory. The Air Force has 62 B-1Bs in the fleet.Hide Caption 5 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetF-15 Eagle – The F-15 Eagle, the Air Force’s main air superiority fighter, became operational in 1975. With a crew of one or two, depending on the model, the twin-engine jets are armed with a 20mm cannon along with Sidewinder or AMRAAM missiles. The Air Force lists 249 F-15 Eagles in its inventory.Hide Caption 6 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetF-15E Strike Eagle – The Strike Eagle is a version of the air superiority fighter adapted to perform ground-strike missions. With a crew of two, the twin-jet can carry and deploy most weapons in the Air Force inventory and operate in any weather. The F-15E was first delivered in 1988. The Air Force lists 219 in its fleet.Hide Caption 7 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetA-10 Thunderbolt – The A-10 Thunderbolt jets, nicknamed “Warthogs,” are specially designed for close air support of ground forces. Key to their armaments is a 30mm Gatling gun. The pilot is protected from ground fire by titanium armor, and the plane’s fuel cells are self-sealing in case of puncture. Hide Caption 8 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetRC-135U – The RC-135U Combat Sent, based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information to the president, secretary of defense, Department of Defense leaders and theater commanders.Hide Caption 9 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetAn F-15 Eagle takes off from the Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flight line as two E-3 Sentries are seen in the background.Hide Caption 10 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetC-130 Hercules transport – A C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron flies over Normandy, France, June 3, 2015. First delivered to the Air Force in 1956, the C-130 remains one of the service’s most important airlift platforms. More than 140 are still in active units, with more than 180 in the National Guard and a hundred more in the Reserve. The C-130 is powered by four turboprop engines.Hide Caption 11 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetOV-10 Bronco – A 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron OV-10 Bronco aircraft fires white phosphorus rockets to mark a target for an air strike during tactical air control training. Hide Caption 12 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetA-29 Super Tucano – An A-29 Super Tucano taxis on the flightline during its first arrival, Sept. 26, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Afghan Air Force pilots trained on the planes that will be used in air-to-ground attack missions in Afghanistan.Hide Caption 13 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetKC-135 Stratotanker – The four-engine KC-135 joined the Air Force fleet in 1956 as both a tanker and cargo jet. It can carry up to 200,000 pounds of fuel and 83,000 pounds of cargo and passengers in a deck above the refueling system. More than 400 of the KC-135s are flown by active, Air Guard and Reserve units.Hide Caption 14 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetF-16 Fighting Falcon – The single-engine jet is a mainstay of the Air Force combat fleet. It can perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions with its 20mm cannon and ability to carry missiles and bombs on external pods. More than 1,000 F-16s are in the Air Force inventory.Hide Caption 15 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetAC-130 gunships – The AC-130H Spectre and the AC-130U Spooky gunships are designed for close air support, air interdiction and force protection. Armaments on the Spectre include 40mm and 105mm cannons. The Spooky adds a 25mm Gatling gun.Hide Caption 16 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetC-17 Globemaster transport – The four-engine jet joined the Air Force fleet in 1993 with a primary mission of troop and cargo transport. Each plane can carry up to 102 troops or 170,900 pounds of cargo. The Air Force has 187 C-17s on active duty, 12 in the Air National Guard and 14 in the Reserve.Hide Caption 17 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetC-5 Galaxy transport – The C-5, with a wingspan of 222 feet, a length of 247 feet and a height of 65 feet, is the largest plane in the Air Force inventory and one of the largest aircraft in the world. The first versions of the four-engine jet joined the force in 1970. The Air Force expects to have 52 versions of the latest model, the C-5M, in the fleet by 2017.Hide Caption 18 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetCV-22 Osprey – The Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft that combines vertical takeoff, hover and landing qualities of a helicopter with the normal flight characteristics of a turboprop aircraft, according to the Air Force. It is used to move troops in and out of operations as well as resupply units in the field. The Air Force has 33 Ospreys in inventory.Hide Caption 19 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetE-3 Sentry AWACS – AWACS stands for airborne warning and control system. This four-engine jet, based on a Boeing 707 platform, monitors and manages battle space with its huge rotating radar dome. The planes have a flight crew of four supporting 13 to 19 specialists and controllers giving direction to units around the battle space. The Air Force has 32 E-3s in inventory.Hide Caption 20 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetKC-10 Extender – Based on the DC-10 passenger jet, the triple-engine KC-10 is a gas station in the sky with the ability to carry 75 people and 170,000 pounds of cargo. In its six tanks, the KC-10 can carry up to 356,000 pounds of fuel and dispense it while airborne. The Air Force has 59 KC-10s on active duty.Hide Caption 21 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetT-38 Talon – The twin-engine jet trainer, used by the Air Force to prepare pilots for the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, B-1B Lancer, A-10 Thunderbolt and F-22 Raptor, first flew in 1959. Almost 550 are in the active force.Hide Caption 22 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetU-2 – The single-engine, single-pilot U-2 is used for high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance. Flying at altitudes around 70,000 feet, pilots must wear pressure suits like those worn by astronauts. The first U-2 was flown in 1955. The planes were used on missions over the Soviet Union during the Cold War, flying too high to be reached by any adversary. The Air Force has 33 U-2s in its active inventory.Hide Caption 23 of 24 Photos: In the U.S. Air Force fleetWC-135 Constant Phoenix – The four-engine WC-135 is used to fly through airspace to detect the residue of nuclear blasts. “The aircraft is equipped with external flow-through devices to collect particulates on filter paper and a compressor system for whole air samples collected in holding spheres,” the Air Force says. It has two of these jets in the active force.Hide Caption 24 of 24In addition to Taliban fighting positions, the strikes targeted training facilities in Badakhshan province and “stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices,” according to US Forces Afghanistan. “The Taliban have nowhere to hide,” said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces Afghanistan. “There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group bent on bringing harm and destruction to this country.”US forces continue to carry out strikes on Taliban support networks in Helmand province and target sources of revenue such as illegal narcotics, the service said, adding that strikes and raids in the region have destroyed more than $30 million of Taliban revenue since the campaign began in November, 2017.Taliban control of Afghanistan on the rise, US data revealsHowever, the Taliban strengthened its hold over Afghanistan in the second half of last year, according to new US military data released to CNN last week.In October 2017, 14% of Afghan districts were under the control or influence of the Taliban or other insurgents, an increase of one percentage point on the previous data from August.The official figures offer a rare and tangible measure by which to assess the ongoing war — a war that President Donald Trump has pledged to win.Sixteen years after the US invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Afghan and NATO forces in the country remain on a war footing. The US-led NATO coalition and Afghan troops are still battling the Taliban and al Qaeda, but are now also fighting ISIS, where a regional affiliate of the terrorist group known as ISIS-K has established a foothold in recent years.