ARABIAN SEA–A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress, assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and part of the U.S. Central Command Bomber Task Force, and the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, attached to the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group conducted joint operations in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, June 1, 2019.
The operations emphasize Joint Force integration and interoperability within the U.S. Department of Defense.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling to look up and see our jets flying alongside the Air Force bomber,” said Capt. William Reed, commander, CVW-7. “The training the air wing conducted with the B-52’s today is an incredible demonstration of how our military can to rapidly join capabilities to enhance our lethality and our ability to respond to any threat when called upon.”
During the exercises, CVW-7 and the 20th EBS conducted several joint training evolutions designed to improve operational tactics in several warfare areas. Exercises included air-to-air training, flying in formation, and simulated strike operations in defense of a national asset.
“While the Air Force trains different assets together all the time, including Navy F-18s, we typically don’t have the opportunity to integrate with the surface fleet,” said Lt. Col. Scott Mills, 609th Air and Space Operations Center air and space strategist. “As we train together, it gives us the chance to examine the bias we each bring to the engagement. We each learn about the other’s domain by searching for areas where we operate differently.”
F/A-18E Super Hornets and E-2D Growlers from CVW-7, embarked on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, conducted a self-escort strike with the bomber. With the Lincoln aircraft simulating opposing and friendly forces, the training gave both sides the chance to interact with elite aircraft.
“The most interesting part about working with any individual aircraft you haven’t had the chance to work with yet is getting to see what unique capabilities it has,” said Lt. Chase Strickland, a pilot attached to the “Sidewinders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 and CVW-7’s coordination lead of the joint exercise. “It’s fascinating getting to train and work with the strategic bomber that has updated capabilities, the latest electronics and the most advanced software.”
The B-52H is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber that has been operated by the U.S. Air Force since 1955. The aircraft can carry up to 70,000 pounds of weapons and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles. Its anti-ship and mine-laying capabilities make it a highly-effective asset to assist the Navy in ocean surveillance.
“Each of our respective services influences the other,” Mills said. “Future conflicts will likely never be restricted to a single domain, and even then the sister services can enhance the effectiveness of the others. Today’s mission represents our ability to project air and sea power around the globe. When we act, we do so as one force, not separate services. Exercises like the one held today ensure that can operate anywhere, anytime.”
CVW-7 Super Hornets conducted a joint close air support exercise with the B-52H. Additionally, MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters from CVW-7, along with the B-52H, conducted strike coordination and reconnaissance exercises. The exercise provided a rare training opportunity as it joined multiple tactical aircraft that don’t often operate in the same airspace.
“The training shows effective coordination between two military components, who can independently operate as the best at what they do in the world, and demonstrate that they can also come together to execute a single mission set,” said Strickland. “It illustrates the effective leadership and the team-of-teams capability within the U.S. Department of Defense.”
The demonstration of flexible and adaptable joint operations shows U.S. military forces are prepared to respond to contingencies, deter conflict, and preserve strategic interests around the world.
“This operation allowed us to train interoperability, focus on defense and interdiction, and provide air support to our naval fleet defense,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, Combined Forces Air Component Commander. “Our land, air, and maritime assets are even stronger and more effective when integrated together. We are postured to face any threats toward U.S. forces in this region.”