Tag Archives: Barksdale Air Force Base

[Photo] U.S. B-2 stealth bomber suffers bird strike while landing at UK base

B-2 involved in a mission launched from the UK hit a bird on landing at RAF Fairford

Aerial refuelers are extremely important to support strategic bombers long-range missions across the world.

During their stay in the UK, the B-52s from both Barksdale Air Force Base and Minot AFB, and the B-2s from Whiteman AFB, temporarily deployed to RAF Fairford, were supported by the KC-135 Stratotankers of the 100 ARW (Air Refueling Wing) based at RAF Mildenhall.

Indeed, as they routinely do when they operate from their homebase in Missouri, the two B-2s from the 509th Bomb Wing were involved a 20-hour training mission within USEUCOM and AFRICOM area of operation: the two stealth bombers, supported also by tankers launched from Lajes, Azores, flew to the south of Ascension, a volcanic island in the equatorial waters in South Atlantic Ocean, and back.

The aircraft took off on Wednesday at 15.00z LT and routed down towards Lands End and down towards an area off Portugal before running south down past the Canaries. They were refuelled by SPUR 61 flight south of the Azores taking them down towards the Cape Verde Islands. A second wave of tankers, SPUR 51 flight then refuelled them on their return journey before they arrived back at Fairford on Thursday 1200z.

Such round trip long range missions are normally flown from CONUS (Continental US), or from Diego Garcia and Andersen AFB at Guam, and are a bit rare from the UK even if RAF Fairford is one of three bases for B-2 operations outside the U.S.

Noteworthy, the Stealth Bombers mission was closely monitored by aircraft spotters and airband listeners who logged the aircraft throughout their flight (flown with radio callsign “ICOSA”).

Interestingly, while landing at the end of the mission flown the morning ahead of the 20 hr sortie, one of the B-2, AV-4 – 82-1069 “Spirit of Indiana” suffered a birdstrike, as the images taken by photographer Matthew Morris show (before and after the hit): fortunately, the “close encounter” did not cause any serious problem to the B-2, but it proved stealth bombers are invisible to radars…and birds.

Bird_Strike

Image credit: Matthew Morris

 

Three U.S. B-52 strategic bombers have deployed to the UK

Three B-52 Stratofortress bombers have arrived at RAF Fairford, UK, for a mini-deployment lasting two weeks.

On Jun. 4, two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and one from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, B-52 (currently operating from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota) landed at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, for a short deployment.

The aircraft relocated to Europe to conduct training activity “in the U.S. European Command area of operations, providing opportunities for aircrews to sharpen skills in several key operational sets and become familiar with airbases and operations in the region.”

Although the official release does not mention it, a patch produced for the deployment suggests that the B-52s were deployed to take part in the Baltops and Saber Strike 2014 exercises.

Whereas Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2014 is an annual multinational maritime exercise held in the Baltics with assets from 13 participating nations involved in training scenarios that include air, surface, subsurface and mine warfare, Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led security cooperation exercise which, focuses, on the three Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

In such exercises as well as in real operations, the B-52s always play an important role: all weather nuclear deterrence aside, the Stratofortress can perform a wide variety of conventional missions ranging from the BAI (Battlefield Area Interdiction) to CAS (Close Air Support), to TASMO (Tactical Air Support to Maritime Operations), to SAR (Search And Rescue)… using GPS and Laser-guided bombs, cruise missiles and aerial mines.

Once there was Pivot to Asia. Nowadays there is a Pivot to the Baltics.

During the deployment to Fairford, lasting about two weeks (and according to rumors involving more B-52s coming from U.S. airbases in the next few days), a Stratofortress will also take part in the 70th anniversary D-Day commemoration in Graignes, France, on Jun. 7.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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Barksdale’s B-52s to get the first woman commander of a combat Bomber Wing ever

2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base to get first woman commander of a combat bomber wing in the next weeks.

Even if it has not been officially confirmed, according to the Times Col. Kristin E. Goodwin, a 1993 graduate of the Air Force Academy who’s served since June as vice commander of the 509th Bomb Wing (nation’s only B-2 Spirit unit at Whiteman AFB, Missouri), will be appointed to lead 2nd BW at Barksdale Air Force Base, in Lousiana in the next weeks.

Goodwin, with more than 2,700 hours in the B-2, EC-130 and C-130 aircraft, has recently got her Stratofortress qualification: a requirement to lead one of the U.S. Air Force’s premier bomb units.

If confirmed, the selection of the first female commander would be just the latest of a long series of firsts for Barksdale: not only it was the first homebase of all-jet bomber wing, but it also was the first base to host Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers on a courtesy visit.  More recently, it was the base to which then-President George W. Bush flew in the aftermath of 9-11 terrorist attacks, and from where he spoke to the nation.

Image credit: Christopher A. Ebdon

 

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Two B-52 and two B-2 bombers perform 20-hour long synchronized attack on Hawaii’s training range

Even if global strike missions are routinely conducted “to ensure the U.S. has a credible capability to respond to a variety of levels of threats and to provide the President a variety of options he may need to protect the nation or its allies and partners,” launching two B-52s and two B-2s in a synchronized strike attack training mission does not happen every day.

The U.S. Air Force has recently conducted a long-range mission with two B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

The strategic bombers flew a non-stop for more than 20 hours and covered about 8,000 miles from their home stations to drop ordnance against target located inside Hawaii’s Pohakuloa military weapon range.

According to the Air Force, it was a coordinated range operation which included low approach training that enabled the air force to put their strategic force’s capability to plan, coordinate and execute such a complex mission with “the right mix” of attack platforms.

As said, since most bomber missions are that long; last year round-trip extended deterrence missions were flown over the Korean peninsula following Kim Jong Un’s threats to U.S. and its allies. What make such operation particularly interesting is the fact that it involved different types of bombers providing a means to both fleets to improve coordination capabilities as well as flying skills.

On a side note, the news of the Global Strike mission to the Hawaiian range comes few days after Russia’s announcement to base its Tu-22M Backfire strategic bombers to Crimea.

As reported by Jane’s Defense Weekly a Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman told the Interfax news agency on that it planned to establish a “missile-carrying regiment” on the Crimea near its capital, Simferopol. In a matter of a couple of years the Russian Air Force plans to have a base for a missile-carrying regiment of Tu-22M3 in the Black Sea.

“The need for [the Tu-22M3s] in the southern direction was always there, but now there are just the right conditions for them to return to the Crimea, which used to be called an unsinkable aircraft carrier,” said the spokesman according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

In other words, a new Cold War is gearing up and Global Strike mission could soon become even more frequent.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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New details about the epic B-52 mission to rescue a Cessna in Alaska

As we reported few weeks ago, on Nov. 10, two B-52s, launched from Minot and Barksdale AFB for a training mission, flew hundreds of miles off course to give assistance to a Cessna plane that had lost radio contact with Anchorage Air Traffic Control Center in bad weather, over Alaska.

While all the details about the successful rescue mission were released by the U.S. Air Force and can be found here, little was known about the mission the two Buffs were flying when they received the distress call.

But, since then, we gathered some more information.

The two B52s that helped the Cessna were taking part in Exercise Global Thunder 14, the largest Air Force Global Strike Command/STRATCOM drills of 2013. They were just two of 18 B-52 Stratofortress aircraft and several B-2 Spirit stealth bombers airborne at that time. More than 22 KC-135s along with 24hr E-6B TACAMO and LOOKING GLASS were supporting the exercise that had started with a MITO (Minimum Interval Take Off).

Global Thunder is a yearly 10-day exercise which incorporates a nuclear war scenario of which most major CONUS air bases are simulated destroyed by ICBMs (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles). AFGSC launches its B-52s and B-2s under MITO procedures and simulate a nuclear attack on Russia. Ground forces are also deployed and simulate detonation reports.

Barksdale and Minot based B-52s conduct various routes which take some up through Alaska and over Canada hence they were over the area that Sunday when the Cessna was requesting assistance.

Noteworthy, the detour did not compromise the B-52 simulated nuclear retaliation on Russia.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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