Air Force deploys bombers, airmen for deterrence missions

BOMBER: A B-1B Lancer bomber sits on the flight line at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo, May 1. U.S. Air Force photo by River Bruce

Just weeks after announcing the end of the decades-long bomber aircraft presence on Guam, four B-1B Lancers were on island on May 1 as part of task force operations conducted out of Andersen Air Force Base.

Included in their contingency were approximately 200 airmen from the 9th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. They were deployed to support Pacific Air Forces training efforts with allies, partners and joint forces; and strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region, according to a statement from the military. 

Three B-1Bs flew to Andersen Air Force Base. The fourth split off and flew down east of Japan to conduct training with U.S. Navy assets operating in the region before heading to Anderson, officials stated.

The last time the B-1s were deployed to the region was in 2017. Bombers from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron supported missions from Andersen, conducting multiple sequenced bilateral missions with the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

“Our wing has conducted, and participated in, a variety of exercises over the last year to ensure we are primed for large-scale missions such as this one,” said Col. Ed Sumangil, 7th BW commander. “We’re excited to be back in Guam and proud to continue to be part of the ready bomber force prepared to defend America and its allies against any threat.”

Sumangil noted deployments such as these allow “airmen to enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe.”

B-52s

In April, the five B-52s that were part of a rotational bomber presence program on Guam started in 2004 departed to their home base at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

After the B-52 rotational bombers left Guam, Andersen's 36th Wing Public Affairs Office said there’s a new “approach that enables strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas locations – when required."

“U.S. strategic bombers will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific, to include Guam, at the timing and tempo of our choosing," 2nd Lt. Ryan K. Bradley, public affairs officer of the 36th Wing, stated at the time. 

According to military officials, the bomber task force enables a mix of different types of strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas and continental U.S. locations with greater operational resilience in line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability.

“The B-1 provides all of the training opportunities which the B-52 (Stratofortress) provided, plus the ability to train to advanced stand-off, anti-surface warfare with (Long Range Anti-Surface Missiles),” said Lt. Col. Frank Welton, PACAF chief of operations force management.

The B-1 can carry the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the U.S. Air Force.

“The B-1 is able to carry a larger payload of joint air-to-surface standoff missiles and a larger payload of 2,000-pound class joint direct attack munitions,” Welton said.  “Additionally, the B-1 is able to carry the LRASM, giving it an advanced stand-off, counter-ship capability. It also has an advanced self-protection suite and is able to transit at supersonic speeds to enhance offensive and defensive capabilities.”

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