Military Aviation

Two B-52 Stratofortresses land at civilian airport to test their ability to operate in austere environments

B-52 Stratofortresses land at civilian airport

A pair of B-52H Stratofortresses from the 20th Bomb Squadron tested their capabilities by landing at a civilian airport as part of exercise Bayou Vigilance on Apr. 12, 2024.

Bayou Vigilance exercises aim to increase the readiness and lethality of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. This is accomplished by simulating combat operations and demonstrating the ability to respond to strategic attacks.

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La. taxis at Chennault International Airport, La., as part of exercise Bayou Vigilance Apr. 12, 2024. Exercise Bayou Vigilance is held to assure our Allies and partners that we are ready to execute nuclear operations and global strike anytime, anywhere, to deter, and if necessary, respond to a strategic attack.

As explained by Senior Airman Seth Watson, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs, in the article B-52s land at civilian airfield during exercise Bayou Vigilance, as part of the exercise, the wing tested its ability to operate in austere environments by landing and taking off at a civilian airport.

“When it comes to nuclear war, all bets are off and we need to be prepared to adapt to the current situation,” said Lt. Col. Jared Patterson, 20th BS commander. “By demonstrating our ability to land at a civilian airfield, we’re demonstrating our ability to conduct operations.”

The 20th BS landed the jets at Chennault International Airport, a local airfield in Lake Charles, La., not far from Barksdale AFB.

The capability to land anywhere across the globe

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-52H Stratofortress 2nd BW, 20th BS, LA/60-0008 “Lucky Lady IV”. Barksdale AFB, LA

“We are demonstrating a capability, and that capability is to land a B-52 anywhere across the globe,” said Patterson. “So yes, we’re doing it close to home this time around, but this proved we can do it anywhere around the globe.”

Landing the B-52s at Chennault required close coordination between the 2nd BW and airport personnel. It showed that the 2nd BW is able to partner with local authorities and the individuals who oversee airfield operations in order to execute the mission.

“The 2nd BW and Chennault International Airport partnership is significant because it provides the wing an alternate location for training and operations, while at the same time demonstrating the viability and importance of the Department of Defense – civilian relationship,” said Kevin Melton, Chennault International Airport executive director.

Joseph Henson, a lineman with Million Air, marshals a B-52H Stratofortress assigned to 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La. at Chennault International Airport, La., as part of exercise Bayou Vigilance Apr. 12, 2024. This exercise allowed aircrew to test their readiness operations and training by working with local partners at an unfamiliar airfield.

The B-52 Stratofortress

The B-52H Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters). It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.
In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations.

For almost 70 years, B-52s have been the backbone of the strategic bomber force for the United States. The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the US inventory. Updated with modern technology, the B-52 is capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of our nation’s defenses. The Air Force currently expects to operate B-52s through 2050.

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Nicole Ledbetter / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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