U.S. Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters and F-15E Strike Eagles dropped 36,000 kilograms, or nearly 80,000 pounds, of bombs on ISIS positions at Qanus Island In the Iraqi province of Salah ad-Din in the framework of the US-led coalition campaign in the war-torn country.
The island in Iraq’s Tigris River that ISIS had been using as a transit hub to move men and materiel from Syria and other points west deeper into Iraq.
However, an official press release from the U.S.-led coalition fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Syria did not say that strikes had killed any militants or destroyed any specific targets.
At the same time, the statement’s wording suggests the airstrikes may have actually been a so-called “terrain denial” operation to blast away vegetation and other natural cover that might have offered concealment for ISIS, also known as Daesh, and their supply caches.
It would have taken 40 of these JDAMs in total to account for the 80,000 pounds of bombs the U.S. military says it dropped on Qanus Island. Official video footage of the strikes, seen near the beginning of this story, does not show 40 separate impacts, though it very possible that it does not cover the full extent of the operation.
Official pictures that accompanied the press release did show F-35As and F-15Es, both of which are presently forward deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, taking part in the operation.
The F-15Es appeared to be carrying loads of at least five 2,000-pound class GBU-31/B Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) GPS-guided bombs. The Joint Strike Fighters had their external wingtip rails for the AIM-9X Sidewinder fitted, but did not appear to be carrying any of those air-to-air missiles. They were not carrying any other external ordnance, suggesting that they were likely each carrying two additional GBU-31/Bs.