Tag Archives: Barksdale Air Force Base

Five U.S. Strategic bombers conduct simultaneous missions around the North Pole and over Alaska

Dubbed “Polar Roar” the latest show of force saw U.S. bombers flying to the North and Baltic Seas in a Cold War-style exercise.

One B-52H Stratofortress from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La., two B-52Hs from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, N.D., and two B-2A Spirits from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo., were launched in simultaneous, non-stop flights from the U.S. to the North and Baltic Seas, around the North Pole and over Alaska, and over the Pacific Ocean to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, respectively.

The mission, dubbed “POLAR ROAR”, saw some of the bombers drop inert weapons (in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex) and included joint training with some regional partners whose fighters had the opportunity to intercept the heavy bombers.

Interestingly, during their trasit through the European region, the Danish F-16s supporting NATO’s continuous Baltic Air Policing mission, along with JAS-39 Gripens from the Partnership for Peace nation of Sweden.  Additionally, Typhoons from Great Britain – one of the Baltic Air Policing detachments – were airborne in western Estonia training areas while the bomber transited the Baltic Sea off the Estonian coast.

As highlighted by one of our sources, it’s worth a note the fact that the Russian Su-27s based at Kaliningrad, were not scrambled to perform VID (Visual Identification) of the Stratofortress bomber in the Baltic:  the Flankers are frequently launched to intercept the U.S. RC-135 Rivet Joint deployed to RAF Mildenhall and flying almost daily off the Russian Oblast. Moreover, the NATO countries always scramble their QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) fighters when the Russian Tu-95 or Tu-160 bombers transit in international airspace off their sovereign airspace.

Realistic exercises like POLAR ROAR are conducted periodically in coordination with North American Aerospace Defense Command: usually, on a 24-hour period, during these drills nearly every USSTRATCOM component, task force, unit, command post and bomb wing takes part in the training events which are aimed at improving all the Command capabilities: space, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, global strike, and ballistic missile defense.

B-52 and B-2s perform their MITO departures and go up to the Arctic and back, controlled by several E-6B Mercury aircraft.

Some strategic bombers route up over Nova Scotia and up past Thule/Greenland and either go all the way around North of Canada and back down through Canada/Alaska or they turn round and go back the way they came. Other waves go up over Alaska first and come back down viceversa.

According to the U.S. Air Force “POLAR ROAR demonstrates the ability of the U.S. bomber force to provide a flexible and vigilant long-range global-strike capability and provides unique and valuable opportunities to train and integrate with allies and partners.”

In simple words: it’s a message to Russia. Noteworthy, after such U.S. Strategic Command yearly exercise, a surge in missions flown by the Russian Air Force bombers close to European airspaces is recorded by NATO.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

USAF B-52s perform show of force in Jordan during 35-hour nonstop mission from the U.S.

Eager Lion 2016 opened by two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

On May 24, two B-52 Stratofortress bombers from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted a 35-hour, 14,000-mile round-trip mission to Jordan, to perform a show of force alongside the partner Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) in Exercise Eager Lion 2016.

Eager Lion 2016

As happened last year, during the nonstop mission (that included four aerial refueling operations) the B-52s conducted air intercept training with Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s and executed a live conventional weapons demonstration directed jointly by JAF and U.S. JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

“Executing these global bomber training missions supports successful integration into geographic combatant command and multinational operations, such as the current B-52 deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander in a release. Indeed, the B-52s are currently deployed to the CENTCOM area or responsibility taking part in the air war against Daesh from Al Udeid airbase, in Qatar.

Eager Lion 2016

USSTRATCOM’s bomber force regularly conducts theater security operations with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to launch and manage global strike missions anywhere.

The Buff’s participation in Eager Lion 2016 follows the deployment of B-52s to Morón Air Base, Spain, in February and March, to take part in Norwegian Exercise Cold Response and French Exercise Serpentex, as well as the deployment of B-2 Spirits to the Indo-Asia-Pacific in March.

Eager Lion 2016

Additionally, in April a B-52 flew a sortie to France to integrate with the French Air Force, and a B-52 also flew to South America to train with the Colombian air force.

Exercise “Eager Lion” is a recurring multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability.

Eager Lion 16 marks the second consecutive year of the integration of +50 years old heavy bomber into the exercise.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Watch a U.S. B-52 blow up Daesh Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices and their storage facitilities in Iraq

Buff at work in Iraq.

Six B-52s are currently deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar, to support Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

The aircraft have replaced the B-1s, that have returned stateside for upgrades and are expected to perform a new tour of duty in the Middle East by the end of the year.

The Stratofortress bombers have launched their first air strike against ISIS on Apr. 18 (targeting a Daesh weapons storage facility in Qayyarah, Iraq). Since then, the B-52s have carried out the same kind of missions the B-1s flew in theater before they were relieved by the Buffs: mainly Close Air Support and Air Interdiction delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), including JDAMs.

The following video was filmed on April 29 where the B-52s attacked multiple vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and their storage facilities near Kirkuk, Iraq, to deny safe havens and disrupt terrorist operations.

Two B-52 strategic bombers have just arrived in Qatar to start pounding ISIS

The “Buff” has arrived at Al Udeid airbase.

Two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, have arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Apr. 9, 2016.

The aircraft, using radio callsign Mighty 71 were monitored by several radiohams on HF frequencies during their flight from the U.S. to the Middle East.

The aircraft will operate in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the air war against ISIS replacing the B-1 Lancers, the last of those returned stateside in January, after a 6-month deployment worth 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets in 490 sorties. By the way, the B-1s could return to the Mideast this summer after they receive additional cockpit upgrades…

Although the B-52s are capable to perform round-trip missions directly from their homebase as demonstrated in May 2015, when two B-52Hs showed their ability to do on a range in Jordan (a 14,000 miles 30-hour trip to drop some 500-lb GBU-38 JDAM – Joint Direct Attack Munition – bombs in an old-fashioned carpet bombing mission) the about 60 years old “Buffs” (Big Ugly Fat Fellas) will be stationed at Al Udeid in Qatar, the first deployment of the Stratofortress in the region after the Gulf War.

Dealing with the type of mission the B-52s will carry out in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, it will probably be the same of the B-1s: Close Air Support and Air Interdiction delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), including JDAMs on ISIS positions.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

These photos show two U.S. B-52 bombers performing a surprise low flyby over Gran Canaria island

Two U.S. Stratofortress bombers caught during a low passage at Gando airbase.

On Mar. 4, two of the U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers deployed to Spain performed a low flyby over Gran Canaria island, in the Atlantic Ocean off Western Sahara, during one of their missions out of Moron Air Base where they deployed at the end of February to take part in Ex. Cold Response and Serpentex.

B-52 low over Gando 3

The two B-52Hs, 60-0022/LA and 60-0062/LA “CAJUN FEAR” arrived over Gando airbase, at 17.15 where The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock was shooting aircraft taking part in DACT 2016, the annual air combat training exercise of the Spanish Air Force.

B-52 low over Gando 4

Here’s how Tony recalled the low passage in an email he sent us:

Word had it earlier in the afternoon that a B-52 was to overfly at 17:00. “Yeah, yeah, pigs might fly if they had wings”. 17:00 came and went, no B-52. “see what I mean”. 17:15. a great shout went up (in Spanish) not ONE, but TWO. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! The noise of the Shutters , click, click, click, became a crescendo as the Spanish spotters went wild with delight. They had of course, also been proved correct, it was not a rumour after all.

As the photos in this post show, the aircraft flew in loose formation, at low altitude, over the Spanish island in the Atlantic: a rather unusual sight!

B-52 low over Gando

Image credit: Tony Lovelock