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B-1, B-52 bombers set stage for increased wartime versatility

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Curt Beach
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Global Strike Command’s B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers have taken turns overseas with airstrikes in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Each airframe provides invaluable capabilities, such as the Lancer’s maximum payload size and supersonic speed and the Stratofortress’ unmatched array of weapons.

These capabilities came together in a new way with an integration flight to southern Louisiana June 15. In the inaugural flight, a B-1 from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and a B-52 from Barksdale flew in unison with a B-1 aviator, Capt. Dane Kidman, taking on the distinctive role of mission commander and crewmember aboard the B-52.

“The intent of this flight was to strengthen the bomber culture within Air Force Global Strike Command and 8th Air Force especially now that all the bombers are unified under the same command,” said Capt. James Bresnahan, 11th Bomb Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander. “In order to do that, we needed to meet each other, learn how each other’s aircraft and crews operate. We were able to see what our similarities we share and combine our strengths for optimal efficiency.”

This flight, part of the larger scale inaugural Bomber Road Show, was the culminating exercise of a week-long event. The integration began with the aircrews of the two formal training units coming together in school houses to cross-talk about similarities and differences between training and operations of the two aircraft.

The bomber duo departed Barksdale to a training area in a simulated threat environment to perform an airstrike targeting scenario. Upon arrival, they checked in with a controlling agency and received mission objectives which included multiple simulated targets.

“What this allowed us to do was to exercise our capability to work as a team of aircraft while maximizing the amount of weapons, firepower and timeliness we bring to the fight,” said Kidman.

Simulated targets included buildings, a helicopter and high value targets. As mission commander, Kidman orchestrated the attack based on each target’s location in the threat environment and the capabilities of each aircraft.

According to crewmembers, both crews benefited from this integration flight. They emphasized the uniqueness of seeing what a mission commander is capable of when he knows how to employ the strengths of two types of aircraft versus a mission commander who goes in only knowing one aircraft’s capabilities, an impactful benefit that can be useful in a combat zone.

Training aircrew to be knowledgeable on and able to operate multiple bomber aircraft makes the aviators more dynamic and can add mission flexibility and increased timeliness, enhancing capability of operations in a combat zone.

“Learning how to integrate different principles from aviators who fly a different jet than I do creates a synergistic effect in the bomber community worldwide,” said Capt. Brian Milner, 28th Bomb Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander and B-1 instructor. “Not only does this capability provide additional aircraft, but it makes our Air Force more lethal and more damaging when we have multiple aircraft operating as one cohesive unit operating in a wartime environment.”