Air Force and Navy assets train in South China Sea.
On Jun. 8, two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, flew a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, through the South China Sea, and operated with the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) “to increase interoperability by refining joint tactics, techniques and procedures while simultaneously strengthening their ability to seamlessly integrate their operations.”
The B-1B Lancers (“Bones” in accordance with the nickname used by their aircrews) have been supporting he U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence mission since Aug. 6, 2016, when the first B-1s, belonging to the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, deployed to Guam, for the first time in a decade, to replace the B-52s.
The B-1B had been taken out from the Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) rotation at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base because they can’t carry any kind of nuclear weapon: the Lancer deployment in the regions brings a conventional heavy bomber within striking distance of the Korean peninsula.
While deterring North Korea out of Guam, the B-1s have also been involved in several regional exercises. For instance, in November 2016, one Lancer carried out close air support training in the vicinity of Australia, a type of mission in which they cooperate with JTACs.
CAS are among the most frequent missions flown by the “Bones” against ISIS during their 6-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve last year: when they returned stateside in January 2016, the B-1s had flown 490 sorties dropping 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets.
I was not aware that the B-1B was not nuke capable…whose idea was that?
The B-1 represents a critical asset in our forces; one that still holds a powerful position; and I’m sure the Chinese have taken notice.
An interesting deployment of an amazing aircraft over the South China Sea.
Will this accelerate the Chinese deploy of fighters to their artificial islands in the area?
There is a natural synergy between USAF big wings and naval forces. During the Iran hostage crisis we (USS Eisenhower) flew escort for B-52s coming out of Guam. We met them in the Northern Arabian Sea and escorted them into the Gulf of Oman. USAF tankers have always been there when we needed them. In the future I see Navy and Marine aircraft providing forward support, including EW and fighter, for USAF big wings. There are a lot of other possibilities too. The Services just have to develop some mutual trust and confidence.
What if 4 Chinese jets J-20 intercept 2 US Air Force B-1B Lancer in South China Sea?