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69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron completes historic Bomber Task Force mission in Europe

  • Published
  • By A1C Evan Lichtenhan
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

After over two months off station, approximately 300 Airmen and four B-52H Stratofortress aircraft supporting a long-planned Bomber Task Force in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility completed their re-deployment to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, April 19.

“Every person on this deployment, from the maintainers keeping us mission capable, the support crews enabling the squadron, to our aircrew, everyone did a stellar job in making this mission a success,” said Lt. Col. Bryson Ayers, 69th Bomb Squadron and 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. “We all knew our role while we were out there was to train and fly with our Allies and partners, find ways to improve on our already robust relationships, and above all else present a stronger more unified NATO alliance. We accomplished that and the entire squadron as well as their families and friends should be proud.”

The BTF deployment model evolved over the years as a means to deploy a tailor-built task force of bombers in a Geographic Combatant Command to enable the each commander’s unique priorities. Bomber Task Force deployments are long-planned and deliberate by nature to best meet GCC commander requirements.

“Each nation brought different capabilities and different ways of attacking a problem set,” Ayers said. “The training and learning from each other will certainly pay dividends in the future.”

Throughout their rotation, the B-52 strategic bomber crews and support personnel built critical relationships in the Artic, Africa, U.S. Central Command, and the Central and Eastern European regions, advancing combatant command priorities and relationships with nations in the region.

“The entire EBS team did a phenomenal job, they fought through friction, always found a way to win, helped energize NATO and proved our ability to perform the Bomber Agile Combat Employment model in an overseas environment,” Ayers said.

Before their return to Minot AFB, the 69th EBS flew a final mission over Europe focused on integrating with NATO Allies.

During this Bomber Task Force iteration, the 69th EBS flew in support of a variety of nations and Aircraft including Norwegian and British F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft and Hellenic Air Force F-4 Phantoms.

Assigned to the Air Force component under U.S. Strategic Command, the B-52H Stratofortress is a long-range, nuclear and conventional heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The B-52 can fly at high, subsonic speeds at altitudes reaching 50,000 feet, with an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles, in addition to carrying precision-guided ordnance with worldwide precision navigation.