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

Dec 26 2013 - 6 Comments

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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  • Glen

    Makes me wonder why they still practise such cold war tasks as bombing Russia maybe Dr Strangelove is alive and well and working in the DOD after all

    • RJ Chesnut Jr.

      Their mission is now to fire cruise missiles far from an enemies borders. They are AWESOME whilst using dumb bombs in the jungle and AFPAK operations.
      Russia flies its bombers in simulations, as does Red China.

    • casey

      Yeah…his name is STRATCOM

  • jhny_777

    Where is the rest of the story about the Cessna! Geeze!

  • Guozhong

    Revamped? Russia will the first new bomber design not before 2025

  • Landing with No Wing…F15…