U.S. Air Force says B-1s were not deployed to Guam. So, where did five big bombers go last night?

Apr 06 2013 - 26 Comments

It looks like the B-1Bs strategic bombers heard last week by milair monitoring expert Steve Douglass did not deploy to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

A couple of nights ago, from his monitoring station in Amarillo, Douglass heard a flight of seven Dyess Air Force Base’s 7th Bomb Wing “Bones” asking for weather report for Guam, where they were seemingly going alongside some supporting KC-135s aerial refuelers.

However, the B-1s never landed in the strategic airbase in the Pacific.

Talking to Foreign Policy Killer Apps, U.S. Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman said that the planes are not at Andersen Air Force Base. “The definitely didn’t even stop through,” she added.

Sources at Dyess AFB have confirmed to Douglass that seven planes were launched at night a couple of days ago. Two of them were spares: they returned to the airbase near Abilene, Texas, while the remaining five continued to their final destination.

Unfortunately, the source could not say where the Lancers eventually landed.

B-1 formation

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

So, the question is: where did five B-1s deploy to last night?

Even if they did not go to Guam, their flight remain a mystery for at least two reasons:

1) Big bombers (B-1s, B-52s, B-2s) usually deploy in pairs. When more planes have to reach a forward operating base, they usually move individually. Five planes moving together (if not in formation, at the same time) is far from being normal.

2) The route is somehow weird: when they deploy to Europe, Middle East (Thumrait or Al Udeid) or Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, B-1s fly eastward, overflying the Atlantic Ocean and then the Mediterranean Sea. The route across the Pacific is unusual.

3) Timing is suspect. The deployment took place few hours after North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un said he was going to launch a nuclear attack on Continental U.S.

4) They talked on the radio about Guam (the most important base in the region, to be protected by THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense systems): if they were deploying there to reinforce U.S. presence near North Korea, preparing a preemptive attack that would face little resistance by the obsolete North Korean Air Force, they would keep the information secret by using secure radios.

Maybe. It must not be forgotten that U.S. and NATO planes used to talk in the clear during Libya Air War missions.On the other side, they knew some airband listeners were hearing them and wanted them to spread the news that seven (actually five) bombers were going to Guam.

What’s your opinion. Where were they going (Japan, Thailand, Philippines, ?) and why?

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  • Gridlock

    What could Guam be an alternate for? Would explain the weather check.

    • elportonative77

      Iwo Jima? No population on the island (only military personnel and select government employees), long enough runway and it’s in the middle of nowhere.

  • Vikko

    Maybe they didn’t actually go anywhere?

  • http://www.twitter.com/El_Skeptico Barracuda Bob

    Wake Island would be a logical assumption…and everything at this point would be an assumption.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Zaphod58 Steve Fortson

      Wake is awfully small for 5 B-1s though. They don’t have any maintenance facilities or hangars there.

  • Dan

    Do we have any confirmation that 7 Bones actually took off?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000723649050 David Dicken

    I think that when the report mentioned 7 aircraft deployed, 5 were B-1’s and 2 were KC-135’s for aerial refueling of bombers. Latest update says that the a/c did not deploy to Guam, however, the Philippines recently offered facility services for FOB. Guam is on the way, which would make sense for wx report. Just a thought.

  • billsimpson

    I heard some chatter on my GRECOM 800 scanner about the time of this report. It was on some AM military channel which I never hear active on the scanner before. Some numbers came up on the screen, but I didn’t write them down or record the transmission. I’m near New Orleans so it could be fighters flying out of the local Naval Air Station. It sounded like they were discussing in flight refueling, but I’m not sure.
    If they are sending bombers anywhere, it is probably to be closer to Syria with all those chemical weapons they have. The latest polls indicate that the American people don’t want US ground troops involved in any more wars unless we, or our treaty allies, are directly attacked.
    Or they might be getting ready to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations? The talks are going nowhere.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lionel.borgus Lionel Borgus

      Yeah maybe, but why would they go over the Pacific to get to Syria or Iran? And aren’t there B1’s already in Afghan they could use for those missions? Just a thought.

  • W

    Pure speculation: Alaska is a pretty convenient location for missions against NK. Quite a distance from Guam though…

  • Starviking

    If the B-1s had landed in Japan it would have been all over the news here, so I think we can discount that destination. The same might hold true for Thailand and the Phillipines.

  • Atsme

    Even if you knew, why would you want to release such information to the enemy? If anything, those planes should have been flying over NK to drop deterrants on their launch pads. When someone mouths off to you, and threatens you and your family, what would you do? Provide them a step by step plan? Heck no. I’d eliminate the threat to the point I’d never have to worry about it again. Wouldn’t you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Minick/100000895261749 Christopher Minick

    I think…that if a war does break out (still very very very low chance) it will be the first war started based purely on media hype. Both sides dont want war, yet they seem to be reacting to each other via media reports more than anything.

  • http://twitter.com/bozzomarc Marc A

    A good friend of mine attends Tarlac City uni in the Philippines and assuming those birds were off to the Philippines they could have landed there. I email him (as he is as much of a plan enthousiasts as i am) and he told me that none of his friends saw or heard any landings recently other than a couple fighter jets….

    • JamesSpam

      I’m based in the Philippines and have some flyboy pals based in Clark Field, Pampanga where there is sufficient infrastructure to house B1s and where it is most plausible for them to be destined. Just asked them if they’ve seen any of these birds. They’ve only reported V-22s, C-130s, and F-18s. No B1s. :D Hope this was helpful. Will keep you posted if there are any sightings.

      • http://twitter.com/bozzomarc Marc A

        Thanks for the info! they’re down regularly but told me they’ve only seen small ‘airframes’ (his english his rather mismatch between everyday english and technical english) my bet is they saw f-18s or other fighter types, B1s dont go unnoticed! I asked them to keep an eye out as it is indeed the most plausible place for them to wait for the launch(es)!

  • Gelsomino Pasqualino

    There is always the possibility that they were on their way to Guam and were recalled before arriving, perhaps diverted back to Alaska or Hawaii. In some ways, I’d rather not know.

  • Blackie Manta

    Steve Douglas is only a reputable source of misinformation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Zaphod58 Steve Fortson

      Not this time. The B-1s did depart and head west.

  • anonymous

    Diego Garcia?

  • Tom

    I wonder if they really did go to Guam… but landed at Northwest Field instead of Andersen? NW Field is still a pretty good place to hide in plain sight.

    • http://twitter.com/NFlightTech Garth Häävelschlockë

      Runways at NWF are closed, and Space Command took it over.

  • Ano N. Ymous

    Australia? Some good bombing ranges down there.

  • Corky Boyd

    There are times the military is deceptive, yet technically accurate. This may have been one of them.
    There are two other fields in the area, one on Saipan and the other Tinian. Both are capable of handling B-1s. Perhaps they deployed there, rather at ground zero. Even without the clubs and good accomodations, they are probably a better place to park your plane.
    You can check thim out on Google Earth.

  • DyessATC

    Nellis and back already. I’m controller at DYS