A pair of B-1s launched from South Dakota April 28 to conduct theater familiarization training. The bomber crews flew more than 32 hours, non-stop, as part of a joint U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission before returning home.
“These missions are important because they allow us to demonstrate and showcase our nation’s dynamic force employment capabilities,” said Col. David Doss, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “They demonstrate our commitment to our allies and partners, as well as show any potential adversary, that we can deliver overwhelming long-range global strike capabilities anytime, anywhere, regardless of whether we are at home or deployed abroad.”
In line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability, the Air Force transitioned its force employment model to enable strategic bombers to operate within the Indo-Pacific region from a broad array of overseas and continental United States locations with greater operational resilience.
USAF B-1Bs SNARK11 & 12 departed Dyess AFB, Texas en route to the East China Sea near Okinawa, then to Andersen AFB, Guam. pic.twitter.com/yVoTGP6xRk— Aircraft Spots (@AircraftSpots) May 1, 2020
On April 22, a single B-1B from Ellsworth launched from Ellsworth and integrated with the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) to conduct bilateral and theater familiarization training near Japan, teaming up with six U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, seven JASDF F-2s and eight JASDF F-15s over the Draughon Range.
“These missions bolster the capability of our strategic bomber force by providing unique training opportunities with our joint and allied partners,” Doss added. “They are also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our allies and demonstrate to them that we can reliably bring tremendous firepower capabilities into theater and operate with them in a seamless way.
Col. Richard Barksdale Jr., commander of the 28th Operations Group, said the aircrews who participated in the mission garnered valuable experience that will benefit them and others in the future.
“As with all missions of this type, the crews learn valuable lessons that will be shared within the community to improve interoperability and seamless integration with our sister services and our allied partners,” he said.
While the nation continues to wage the war on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Barksdale noted that it didn’t influence the mission.
“Besides practicing prudent COVID-19 personal mitigation measures, these crews and these missions weren’t impacted by the current pandemic,” he said. “I’m very proud of how well the team performed to complete this mission.”
USSTRATCOM has conducted BTF missions (previously known as Bomber Assurance and Deterrence missions) since 2014 as a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to collective security, and to integrate with Geographic Combatant Command operations. The first mission included B-52H Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit bombers traveling from the continental United States to Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam in April 2014.