The Air Force is running out of bombs to drop on ISIS

The United States Air Force is dropping so many bombs on Daesh (aka ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria, that it’s running out of them. Not that there are no bombs at all in the Air Force arsenal, but the Air Force’s supply chain is having a hard time keeping up with the number of bombs the ISIS threat requires.

“We are now expending munitions faster than we can replenish them,” Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a statement.

Master Sgt. Adam, middle, NCO-in-charge of conventional maintenance, preps the KMU-572 fins for assembly onto the MK-82 munition Dec. 21, 2014, in Southwest Asia. Adam is deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Hinson)

Master Sgt. Adam, middle, NCO-in-charge of conventional maintenance, preps the KMU-572 fins for assembly onto the MK-82 munition in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Hinson)

The top Air Force General estimates at least 20,000 bombs were dropped on ISIS targets since the air campaign against the terrorist organization started last year. B-1 bombers are dropping bombs in record numbers, leaving munitions supplies in the region at record lows. Gen. Welsh called the need to replenish funds and munitions a “critical need.”

The Air Force now has an estimated 142,000 guided munitions and 2,300 Hellfire missiles, used in drone strikes.

Six GBU-38 munitions are dropped by a B-1B Lancer aircraft onto an insurgent torture house and prison in Northern Zambraniyah, Iraq, March 10, 2008. The munitions drop was cleared by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joseph Aton, a joint terminal attack controller from Fort Hood Texas, and deployed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway) (Released)

From America, with love: Six GBU-38 munitions are dropped by a B-1B Lancer aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

In the first ten months of the American response to ISIS in 2015, Air Force fighters and bombers dropped munitions during half of their 18,000 sorties (a sortie is a single air mission with a takeoff and landing). In 2014, one third of sorties flown used weapons.

The White House recently signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which allowed for more funding to fight the air campaign in Iraq and Syria. In a televised statement to the nation, President Obama also asked Congress for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force in early December to provide funding for further operations against ISIS.

An assortment of 500-pound and 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions are connected to a multiple ejector rack on a B-1B Lancer March 31, 2011, at a weapons load barn at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. If fielded, a 16-carry modified rotary launcher will increase the number of 500-pound JDAMs and laser-guided JDAMs carried by a B-1B from 15 to 48, a 320 percent increase in capability. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shannon Hall)

Good thing the Air Force upgraded its B-1 Bomber fleet in 2011 so it carries three times the payload.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shannon Hall)

The American public is ready for an expanded fight against ISIS, including looser rules of engagement and a more aggressive air campaign. Congressional Republicans are even calling for an American ground force, which the Iraqi government has repeatedly denied.