Two U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. flew a 32-hour round-trip sortie to conduct operations over the South China Sea as part of a joint U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission on Apr. 29, 2020.
According to the Pacific Air Forces news release, this operation demonstrates the U.S. Air Force’s dynamic force employment model in line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability with persistent bomber presence, assuring allies and partners.
As we have recently explained, on Apr. 17, 2020 the USAF announced it will no longer base strategic bombers outside of the continental US, marking an end to the service’s 16-year Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB).
The new “dynamic force employment” model allows the bombers to operate from a broader array of overseas locations with greater resilience, while keeping the aircraft permanently based in the US.
The long-expected change comes as service leaders, including Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and the head of U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) Gen. Timothy Ray, have said dynamic deployments of task force-size groups of bombers will be more effective in the future.
This follows an Apr. 22 CONUS-based bomber bilateral training where the B-1 integrated with six U.S. Air Force F-16s and 15 Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-15s near Japan.
“We look at the B-1 as a great capability: I can land it in a lot of places physically that I can’t land a B-52, and I can operate with more people. So we’re going to feature that a little bit more in the Pacific,” Ray Said.
USSTRATCOM has conducted BTF missions (previously known as Bomber Assurance and Deterrence missions) since 2014 as a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to collective security, and to integrate with Geographic Combatant Command operations. The first mission included B-52H Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirits traveling from the continental United States to Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam in April 2014.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Cynthia Belío, Senior Airman Nicolas Erwin / U.S. Air Force
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