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.
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).
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.
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 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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
The JTACs operate on the French Island of Corsica and work together to practice identifying targets and using that data to call in air strikes from nearby French and American aircraft.
Serpentex differs from other joint military exercises held in the region because it focuses on close air support only: in fact, during the drilsl, the B-52s joined with French fighters to support JTACs from several NATO nations, as well as those from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who are also participating this year.
The presence of the B-52, which is taking part in exercise Serpentex for the very first time, represents a great training opportunity for the JTACs. “Most of them haven’t worked with bombers for these types of missions before. We have a longer duration and a lot wider turn radius than some of the fighters, so they’re going to have to find a new pacing for calling us in for close air support. But I promise that bomber CAS is worth the wait” Maj. Sarah Fortin, the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations, said in a USAF release.
Noteworthy, whilst CAS role has traditionally been filled by various fighter platforms, the BUFF is well-suited for the mission since is able to loiter for extended periods and carrying a wider range of munitions than any other aircraft in the U.S. inventory.