In continued demonstration of the U.S. Air Force’s dynamic force employment model, two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers flew from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and conducted training in Alaska and Japan May 21, 2020.
In Alaska, the B-1s were joined by F-22s and F-16s out of the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, to conduct a large force employment exercise in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. The crews then flew southwest to Japan where they completed familiarization training in support of U.S. European Command objectives. The bombers then continued south in the vicinity of Misawa, Japan integrating with the USS Ronald Reagan and a P-8 Poseidon to conduct Long Range Anti-Ship Missile training before returning to Guam.
The B-1s and Airmen are currently deployed to Andersen AFB from 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, as part of a joint U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command Bomber Task Force.
“These missions demonstrate our ability to hold any target at risk, anytime, and anywhere,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Stallsworth, 9th EBS commander. “The training value of these sorties is irreplaceable … our team conducted large force exercise training around Alaska with U.S. Air Force fighters, we conducted multiple standoff weapons training events, as well as integrated with U.S. naval assets along the way. From a readiness perspective, it is hard to think of a more valuable training sortie.”
In line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability, the U.S. Air Force transitioned its force employment model to enable strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas and continental U.S. locations with greater operational resilience.
“These missions make the DOD more ready, more lethal, and flat out stronger,” Stallsworth continued. “Our aviators are getting the chance to coordinate and practice time-sensitive target drills in the Pacific.”
B-1s first returned to the theater Jan. 22, conducting a long-range BTF mission from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, to integrate with U.S. Air Force F-16s and Koku Jieitai, or Japan Air Self Defense Force F-2s and F-15s.
The Airmen and crews from Dyess arrived at Andersen AFB May 1 to conduct BTF missions in the Indo-Pacific. Since their arrival, they have conducted a variety of missions, from near the Hawaiian Islands, to the South China Sea, integrating with both joint counterparts and JASDF partners.
Flying this type of mission allow B-1 crews to gain valuable training in being able to familiarize with air bases and operations in different Geographic Combatant Commands’ areas of operations.
“This shows the ability of the U.S. to reach anywhere on the globe and synchronize operations with other Geographic Combatant Commands,” said Lt. Col. Frank Welton, Pacific Air Forces’ chief of operations force management.
From the moment a plan is drawn up, to execution, landing and maintenance, BTF missions such as this one take a team effort from across the Air Force in order to demonstrate the United States’ steadfast commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
“These types of sorties, with multiple training events, are not planned in a vacuum or stove-piped,” Stallsworth said. “These sorties effectively exercise our Department of Defense integration muscles [and] require multiple Combatant Commands to effectively plan and communicate, in order to synchronize effects in multiple domains.”