ELLSWORTH AFB, S.D. --- B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth Air Force Base conducted a second long-range strategic Bomber Task Force mission in the European theater that included key interactions with U.S. assets as well as Danish and Polish forces, May 11.
The nearly 24-hour, nonstop mission covered more than 9,400 nautical miles and included integration and interoperability training with Danish F-16s overflying Bornholm Island, Denmark, and Polish F-16s and MiG-29s teaming up to fly over Warsaw, Poland, as well as flights over Latvia and Lithuania.
“Bomber Task Force operations like this provide tremendous opportunities for our B-1 aircrew to work and train with our allies and partners to enable seamless operations,” said Col. David Doss, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “This mission is a testament to the long-range strike capability of our nation’s bomber fleet regardless of conditions or basing location.”
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, provided key air refueling support that ensured the aircraft from Ellsworth AFB successfully accomplished the mission.
This is the fourth time in just over four weeks that B-1 aircrews from South Dakota conducted long-duration sorties that included operations in the Pacific and European theaters, demonstrating the shared commitment to global security and stability.
Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, officials noted that missions like this reaffirm America is committed to its mission in all domains (air, sea, land, space, cyber), and to the readiness of our allies and partners.
“The health of our team has been a top priority from the start of our COVID response and is key to sustaining missions like the Bomber Task Force,” said Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “Although mitigation efforts created challenges to overcome, our allies, partners and adversaries should make no mistake that we are ready, able and willing to deter and defend when called upon.”
Col. Chad Heyen, 28th Maintenance Group commander, noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for base aircraft maintainers, they have adjusted their operations and remain very capable of accomplishing their mission.
“Raider maintainers are some of the best maintainers the Air Force has to offer,” Heyen remarked. “No matter how bad the weather conditions are, whether it is day or night, or where the B-1 needs to go, Raider maintainers will move heaven and earth to ensure mission success.”
He added that B-1 maintainers are more “strategic-minded” than many of their counterparts on other airframes because they understand the powerful message of having a B-1 overhead.
“It lets our allies know we will be there if they need us, and lets our enemies know we can hold any target at risk – anytime, anywhere,” he said. “Raider maintainers make that happen. I could not be more proud of them and the work they do.”