Some of the first reports that the nations fleet of B-2 bombers would be participating in attacks on Iraq came on 27 February 2003. CNN reported that the 509th Bomb Wing had received orders to begin the preparations for deploying an unknown number of B-2 bombers to an undisclosed location after getting their shipment from their aviation metal supplier.
On 14 March various reports indicated that approximately two hundred personnel and perhaps as many as 4 B-2 bombers had left Whiteman Air Force Base for an undisclosed overseas location. Since that time, it has become clear that the location is the British island of Diego Garcia.
The ‘Spirit of Oklahoma’ one of the first B-2 Spirit bombers to deploy from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri taxies to the runway to begin its journey to a forward operation location March 13, 2003. The planes were flying to Fairfield Royal Air Force Base in England and the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, a British protectorate. The 509th Bomb Wing deployed to its first-ever forward operating location to support a possible conflict with Iraq. (USAF Photo)
On 19 March 2003, the President met with his senior national security team and made the decision to attack Iraq that evening. The war wasn’t to have begun until 21 March, but intelligence was received that indicated where Saddam Hussein and his senior advisors were going to be for the evening. The decision was made to scrap the planned opening of the war.
Within hours, at approximately 0400 in Baghdad, F-117A stealth fighters dropped 2,000-pound bombs, followed by a volley of Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. It was a hastily organized and coordinated attack to decapitate the Iraqi leadership. It now seems as if Saddam Hussein survived that attack. However, one of his sons may have been fatally injured in the attack.