U.S. Air Force B-1B Bomber Conducts Mission to Sea of ​​Okhotsk Near Russia

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bomber has conducted a mission to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk near Russia on May 22.

According to Japan-based aircraft spotter @KimagureGolf9, the bomber entered the Sea of ​​Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean by flying between the Simushir Island and Chirpoy Island in the Kuril Islands chain. All the islands in the Kuril Islands chain are under Russian administration.

The Sea of Okhotsk is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean which is enclosed between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula on the east, the Kuril Islands on the southeast, Japan’s island of Hokkaido to the south, the Russian island of Sakhalin along the west, and a stretch of eastern Siberian coast of Russia along the west and north.

According to KimagureGolf9, the B-1B bomber took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam along with another B-1B. They flew northeast to Alaska and returned southbound with one bomber flying to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk.

The U.S. Air Force recently deployed four B-1B bombers and approximately 200 Airmen from the 9th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing based at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to Andersen Air Base, Guam to conduct bomber task force (BTF) operations.

B-1B Lancer Takes Off at Andersen AFB, Guam
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber takes off at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on May 8, 2020 for a South China Sea mission. (USAF photo by Senior Airman River Bruce)

According to the Air Force, the bombers “were deployed to support Pacific Air Forces’ (PACAF) training efforts with allies, partners and joint forces; and strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region”.

Since arriving in Guam, the bombers conducted multiple missions over the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.

USAF B-1B Lancer Bombers Over East China Sea
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bomber, assigned to 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, flies over the East China Sea on May 6, 2020, during a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman River Bruce)

The last time the B-1s were deployed to the region was in 2017. Bombers from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron supported missions from Andersen AFB, conducting multiple sequenced bilateral missions with the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

B-1B Lancer

The Rockwell B-1B Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy strategic bomber used by the U.S. Air Force. It is commonly called the “Bone” (from “B-One”).

The B-1B is one of three strategic bombers in the U.S. Air Force fleet, the other two being the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the B-52 Stratofortress bomber. Unlike the other two bombers, the B-1B is currently not capable of being armed with nuclear weapons.

The B-1 can carry the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the U.S. Air Force.

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