U.S. Air Force B-1B Strategic Bombers Conduct South China Sea Mission

Two U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bombers flew a 32-hour round-trip sortie to conduct operations over the South China Sea on April 29.

The mission was conducted as part of a joint U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission. The B-1B bombers involved in the mission were assigned to the USAF’s 28th Bomb Wing based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota (S.D).

B-1B Bomber Task Force (BTF) Mission Over Pacific
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., refuels with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron during a 32-hour round-trip sortie to conduct operations over the Pacific as part of a joint U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission April 30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cynthia Belío)

“This operation demonstrates the U.S. Air Force’s dynamic force employment model in line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability with persistent bomber presence, assuring allies and partners”, said a statement from Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).

This mission follows an April 22 Continental United States (CONUS)-based bomber bilateral training where the B-1 integrated with six U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and 15 Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force, JASDF) F-15 Eagle fighter jets near Japan.

US, Japan Bomber-Fighter Integration
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. and F-16 Fighting Falcons from Misawa Air Base, Japan, conducted bilateral joint training with Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-2s off the coast of Northern Japan, April 22, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Timothy Moore)

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 long-range bombers and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers traveling from the continental United States to Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam (JBPHH) in April 2014.



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