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Bad to the Bone: drug interdiction from 30,000 feet

Tech. Sgt. Brian Svedin, 489th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a returning B-1 Lancer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., flightline after its role in the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing supported the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Tech. Sgt. Brian Svedin, 489th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a returning B-1 Lancer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., flightline after its role in the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing supported the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer waits for its aircrew at Boca Chica Field at Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., flightline for its role in the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing supported the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer waits for its aircrew at Boca Chica Field at Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., flightline for its role in the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing supported the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Ground crew from an integrated unit of reservists and active duty Airmen gives a thumbs up prior to a B-1 Lancer flight at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force South in countering smugglers in the East Pacific and West Caribbean Ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Ground crew from an integrated unit of reservists and active duty Airmen gives a thumbs up prior to a B-1 Lancer flight at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force South in countering smugglers in the East Pacific and West Caribbean Ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer waits for flight clearance at the end of the runway on Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 22, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bomb Group and the 7th Bomb Wing supported the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and 15 other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer waits for flight clearance at the end of the runway on Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 22, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bomb Group and the 7th Bomb Wing supported the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and 15 other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Senior Airman Conner Odom, 7th Operational Support Squadron flight aircrew equipment specialist, inspects B-1 Lancer aircrew survival harnesses prior to a flight at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 24, 2017. Aircrew from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing flew more than 70 hours and searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean leading to the confiscation of more than 4,500 kilos of illicit drugs.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Senior Airman Conner Odom, 7th Operational Support Squadron flight aircrew equipment specialist, inspects B-1 Lancer aircrew survival harnesses prior to a flight at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 24, 2017. Aircrew from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing flew more than 70 hours and searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean leading to the confiscation of more than 4,500 kilos of illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer sits on the flightline at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing work together as part of Total Force Integration to complete the bomber mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer sits on the flightline at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing work together as part of Total Force Integration to complete the bomber mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Col. Justin Boldenow, 7th Operations Group commander, inspects a targeting pod on a B-1 Lancer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 24, 2017.  This targeting pod is capable of tracking, targeting and engaging moving targets. The Joint Interagency Task Force South used the B-1 to track drug smugglers “go-fast” boats across more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Col. Justin Boldenow, 7th Operations Group commander, inspects a targeting pod on a B-1 Lancer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 24, 2017. This targeting pod is capable of tracking, targeting and engaging moving targets. The Joint Interagency Task Force South used the B-1 to track drug smugglers “go-fast” boats across more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer takes-off from the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., flightline to participate in the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission March 22, 2017. The JIATF-South’s mission of detection and monitoring of illicit trafficking from Latin America has confiscated more than $95.2 million of narcotics in 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer takes-off from the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., flightline to participate in the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission March 22, 2017. The JIATF-South’s mission of detection and monitoring of illicit trafficking from Latin America has confiscated more than $95.2 million of narcotics in 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Ground crews remove the engine covers from a B-1 Lancer prior to startup at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. These covers protect aircraft from Foreign Object Damage and severe weathering. The long range, multi-role bomber uses four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner that produce more than 30,000 pounds of thrust, per engine allowing the bomber to reach speeds of Mach 1.25. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Ground crews remove the engine covers from a B-1 Lancer prior to startup at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. These covers protect aircraft from Foreign Object Damage and severe weathering. The long range, multi-role bomber uses four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner that produce more than 30,000 pounds of thrust, per engine allowing the bomber to reach speeds of Mach 1.25. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer sits on the flightline at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing are part of Total Force Integration; working together to complete the bomber mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)
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A B-1 Lancer sits on the flightline at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing are part of Total Force Integration; working together to complete the bomber mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Airman Darian Hopkins, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron instrument and flight controls specialist, inspects a part of the wing of a B-1 Lancer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. The B-1 is a four engine, supersonic, variable-sweep wing, jet-powered, strategic bomber. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)
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Airman Darian Hopkins, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron instrument and flight controls specialist, inspects a part of the wing of a B-1 Lancer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. The B-1 is a four engine, supersonic, variable-sweep wing, jet-powered, strategic bomber. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

A B-1 Lancer sits on the flightline at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Two B-1’s flew more than 70 hours and searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean and assisted in confiscating more than 4,500 kilos of drugs during a Joint Interagency Task Force South mission. This mission combined Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group, the 7th Bomb Wing, Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)
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A B-1 Lancer sits on the flightline at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 23, 2017. Two B-1’s flew more than 70 hours and searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean and assisted in confiscating more than 4,500 kilos of drugs during a Joint Interagency Task Force South mission. This mission combined Airmen from the 489th Bombardment Group, the 7th Bomb Wing, Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies in the fight against illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

Aircrew depart a B-1 Lancer after returning from a sortie during a Joint Interagency Task Force South mission out of the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 22, 2017. Aircrew from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing flew more than 70 hours and searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean leading to the confiscation of more than 4,500 kilos of illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)
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Aircrew depart a B-1 Lancer after returning from a sortie during a Joint Interagency Task Force South mission out of the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West Fla., March 22, 2017. Aircrew from the 489th Bombardment Group and the 7th Bomb Wing flew more than 70 hours and searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean leading to the confiscation of more than 4,500 kilos of illicit drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland/released)

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas. --

Total Force Integrated Airmen from the 489th Bomb Group and 7th Bomb Wing used the B-1 Lancer to track illicit drug traffickers, or “smugglers,” from South America to the U.S. out of Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West, Fla. March 20 - 24.

The B-1 or “Bone” assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force South in countering smugglers in the East Pacific and West Caribbean Ocean. Its role is only one part of the JIATF-South’s integration of every branch of the U.S military, U.S. federal intelligence agencies, law enforcement and 15 partner nations working side-by-side to detect and monitor trafficking in the air and maritime in Latin America.

The Bone’s capabilities of a synthetic aperture radar capable of tracking, targeting and engaging moving vehicles which makes it perfect for finding smugglers using “go-fast” boats across the ocean.

“The 345th and 9th bomb squadrons are working with JIATF-South to identify boats that are moving drugs from Central America up through Mexico,” said Lt. Col Michael McClanahan, 345th Bomb Squadron commander. “While you tend to think of the B-1 as only doing bombing missions, we're not employing that tactic this week. But, we are using the varying sensors on the B-1, such as the targeting pod and the ground moving target radar capability to identify boats on the water then relaying that information to the to the Coast Guard or some of the other players operating during this mission.”

The integration combines the experience of the 489th Bomb Group and 7th Bomb Wing which provides a better working environment for the mission.

“We have all of these different working parts; each bringing their own strengths to the mission,” Col. Justin Boldenow, 7th Operations Group commander. “At Dyess we have a combination of both active duty and reserve airmen from the 489th Bomb Group and the 7th Bomb Wing. That total force integration helps us to communicate not only within our own units across the Air Force, it gives us the tools to integrate with other agencies to accomplish a mission such as this.”

In total, the combined unit dedicated more than 10 sorties of coverage to this operation. Those flights searched more than 3.2 million square miles of ocean and assisted in confiscating more than 4,500 kilos of drugs.

“This type of mission means a lot more to us than a typical training mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Brian Luke, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “I don't like drugs and I want to keep them out of my community. We are not here to have fun like other people visiting Key West, we’re here to do a mission and everyone we have brought with us are the right people for this mission. Everyone from the lowest airmen to the highest rank have been dedicated to what we are doing here with the JIATF-South.”

Missions such as these offer training opportunities with an impact seen at home in local communities. Even though the B-1 was designed for combat support, it has been used in a multitude of flying missions daily outside of combat operations.