Tag Archives: Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

All we know about the U.S. B-2 bombers 30-hour round trip mission to pound Daesh in Libya

In a massive two-aircraft nighttime precision strike supported by at least one armed drone U.S. Air Force stealth bombers have killed over 80 ISIL insurgents south of the coastal city of Sirte, Libya.

As already reported, two U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base carried out a precision air strike on Daesh training camps in Libya on Jan. 18, 2017.

DoD officials characterized the strike as a “huge success” in a statement issued on Jan. 19.

The multiple terrorist camps struck on Wednesday were once an ISIL stronghold in Libya. The targets were hit with 108 precision-targeted, air-delivered weapons. There was no indication of how the targeting data was provided. Following the airstrike by B-2s at least one remotely piloted vehicle (MQ-9 Reaper according to some sources, MQ-1 Predator according to others) launched supporting strikes using AGM-114 Hellfire missiles against ISIS fighters trying to run to safety.

“In conjunction with the Libyan Government, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Wednesday night destroying two ISIL camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirtem,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters.

This continuation of U.S. air action over Libya further extends U.S. combat operations in the region bringing the number of airstrikes by U.S. forces to nearly 500.

This latest round of heavy strikes was authorized by outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama, indicating that the targets were of significant strategic value to the conflict. The camps were established by ISIL insurgents following a protracted combined ground and air campaign by a coalition of nations including Libya to eliminate the terrorist influence in the region.

The strikes were flown from the continental United States directly to Libya and back but, unlike what happened in 2011, during the opening phases of Operation Odyssey Dawn, the raid was far from being unnoticed: the aircraft flew under radio callsign CLIP11 (93-1087) CLIP12 (89-0129) and CLIP13 (82-1068) with the latter one being the spare aircraft.

According to some sources, a fourth B-2 was involved in the raid but only three were monitored by airband listeners and this would be coherent with the standard Spirit procedures that usually involve a single spare aircraft.

A total of 15 tankers (KC-135 and KC-10) participated in the operation, enabling the B-2s to fly the more than 30 hours round-trip to the target from their home base in Missouri.

According to the U.S. Air Force, planners at 18th Air Force and the 618th Air Operations Center at Scott AFB coordinated the tanker mission.

The 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, was one of the units that contributed tankers to the refueling mission. Then, after crossing the Pond, the B-2s were refueled off Gibraltair by KC-135s belonging to the 100th ARW launched from RAF Mildenhall, UK, whose racetracks could be tracked online by means of ADS-B.

The USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Porter (DDG-78), both Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyers, supported the operation as they steamed north of Libya on station in the Mediterranean.

According to Defense journalist Babak Taghvaee, ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) and post-strike BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) were conducted by U-28A aircraft from 319th SOS even though the participation of USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk drones, that have often conducted missions over North Africa and Syria seems to be quite likely.

Airmen from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri prepare B-2 Spirit stealth bombers for operations near Sirte, Libya. In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Jan. 18, 2017 destroying two Daesh camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joel Pfiester)

The B-2 Spirit is a unique asset to the American military, with no comparable low-observable, heavy precision strike asset being fielded by any other nation. The aircraft became operational in early 1997 and launched its first combat strike soon after in KosTwo B-2 Spirit stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base carried out a precision air strike in Libya on Jan. 18, 2017.ovo in 1999. There are fewer than twenty of the aircraft in Air Force inventory.

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber lands at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Jan. 19, 2017. Two B-2s returned after an approximate 30-hour sortie in support of operations near Sirte, Libya. In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Jan. 18, 2017, destroying two Daesh camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joel Pfiester)

The B-2 Spirit is operated by the legacy 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Missouri. The 509th Bomb Wing was originally formed in late WWII expressly to conduct the first operational nuclear strikes on Japan in 1945. The unit operated a modified version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and launched two operational nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only active use of nuclear weapons by a nation in warfare.

Written with David Cenciotti

 

U.S. B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers from Whiteman AFB conduct precision airstrike in Libya. Drones perform scene “cleanup”

Two B-2 stealth bombers performed a round-trip mission from CONUS (Continental US) to perform airstrikes on Daesh training camps in Libya. Drones “cleaned-up” the operation firing Hellfires at fighters trying to run to safety.

Two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base carried out a precision air strike in Libya on Jan. 18, 2017.

According to the information released by the U.S. DoD, the raid was conducted in conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, to wipe out four Daesh camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte.

The Spirit dropped 108 precision-guided bombs on the ISIS training camps: along with the Hellfires fired by U.S. drones (most probably MQ-9 Reapers or MQ-1 Predators often reported flying over northern Africa) immediately thereafter to “clean up” the operation, the air strike killed an estimated 85 terrorists according to Fox News who spoke with U.S. defense officials.

This is not the first time the B-2s conduct a Global Strike mission around the globe to attack ground targets in Libya: in March 2011, as happened during Operation Allied Force in 1999, the stealth bombers launched from Whiteman AFB, Missouri and with the support of many tankers along the route dropped 40 conventional bombs on the aircraft shelters at Ghardabiya airbase where no less of 7 LARAF units equipped with Mig-21s, Su-22s, Su-24s, J-21s, Mi-8s and Mi-24s were based.

A B-2 spirit stealth bomber from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base takes off in support of operations In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Jan. 18, 2017 destroying four Daesh camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

Watch the B-2 Spirit Bomber’s Rose Bowl Flyover from two spectacular view points

A B-2 Stealth Bomber performing a flyover as seen from two unusual points of view. Way cool!

On Jan. 2, 2017, B-2 Spirit “Spirit of Kitty Hawk” with 509th Bomb Wing from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, opened the 103rd Rose Bowl Game game, between the Big Ten Conference Champion Penn State Nittany Lions and the Pac-12 Conference Champions the University of Washington Huskies, at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California with the traditional flyover.

The top air-to-air image showing the Stealth Bomber during the flyover (from above) was taken by Mark Holtzman, a photographer and pilot, founder of West Coast Aerial Photography, a company specialising in aerial photography based in Los Angeles.

Mark has been able to take some fantastic shots of the Rose Bowl flyovers from a plane: here are 2011 Rose Bowl flyover performed by U.S. Navy F/A-18s out of Lemoore; here’s 2009 Rose Bowl flyover by another B-2 and here you can see the 2016 flyover.

This year was much more difficult because of the clouds.

“If the B-2 had been 5 minutes earlier we would’ve been able to get it over the stadium, but the clouds came in right before,” Holtzman explained The Aviationist in an email.

Even though this year’s shot is not as crazy as those taken in the previous flyovers, it is still a cool photograph as you don’t happen to see a B-2 from above while flying over a city in L.A. county too often.

Here below you can watch the awesome footage filmed by Shorealone Films photographer Matt Hartman as the stealth bomber, serial 93-1086, radio callsign “Reaper 11” approached the Rose Bowl stadium through a pretty cloudy sky.

What makes the clip stunning, is that the flyover occurs at just about eye level (2,300 – 2,500 feet.)

By the way, it’s the same spot just off a small hiking trail in the hills above Pasadena, some 1.13 miles from the Rose Bowl, from where Matt took some incredible shots of the B-2 doing the 2015 Rose Bowl Game’s flyover we posted two years ago.

 

Salva

Salva

B-52, B-1 and B-2 simultaneously conduct missions from Guam in unprecedented integrated bomber operation in Pacific

History was made when all the Air Force Global Strike Command’s strategic power projection bombers simultaneously launched from Guam for their first integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

On Aug. 17, the U.S. Air Force bomber trio (B-52 Stratofortress, B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit) conducted the first coordinated operation in the U.S Pacific Command AOR (Area Of Operations). The three aircraft launched in sequence from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, performed a flyover and then dispersed to conduct simultaneous operations in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia.

The B-52 is part of the latest Stratofortress CBP (Continuous Bomber Presence) detachment to Guam: the aircraft, belonging to the 69th Bomb Squadron from Minot AFB, ND, are about to return stateside after a 6-month deployment. They will be replaced by the “several” B-1B Lancers that have deployed to Andersen on Aug. 6 to undertake the CBP mission in the Pacific.

The B-2 is one of the three stealth bombers with the 509th Bomb Wing that have arrived in Guam on Aug. 9, to conduct extended deterrence operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, where China is continuing its colonization of the disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

Bomber trio over Guam 3

Missions like the one carried out on Aug. 17 are regularly conducted by the U.S. Air Force, even if these rarely involve all three different types of bombers: for instance, in 2014, the USAF launched 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: 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.

The bomber trio mission “demonstrated the U.S. commitment to supporting global security and our ability to launch a credible strategic defense force,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, the 36th Wing commander in an official statement.

“By doing this, we showed the world we can expertly integrate three different platforms with unique capabilities, meeting (Andersen AFB’s) mission by providing the president of the United States sovereign options to decisively employ airpower across the entire spectrum of engagement, thus achieving our wing’s motto, we are ‘prepared to prevail,’” Cox said.

In simple words, whilst the Air Force Global Strike Command emphasized that the routine deployments to Andersen AFB provide opportunities to train, share experiences and strengthen regional alliances, the truth is that the U.S. Air Force exploited the presence of the tri-bomber force in Guam to get some cool shots (like those in this post) and flex the muscles in the Pacific.

 

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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