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Ellsworth B-1s return to European Theater as part of latest BTF mission

Aviators attend a meeting

B-1B Lancer aviators assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., review mission plans at a step briefing prior to a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. The U.S. maintains the capability, readiness, and will to defend interests globally, and will work closely with allies and partners to quickly and decisively respond to threats to partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Plane takes off

A 34th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., for a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. BTF missions are representative of the U.S. commitment to integrate with NATO and allied partners to ensure regional security. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Equipment hangs on pegs

Prepared flight equipment sits at the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., while B-1B Lancer aviators attend a step briefing prior to a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. These long-range, long-duration B-1B missions demonstrate the U.S. Air Force’s global strike capacity and ability to deliver precision-guided ordnance against any adversary - anytime, anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

A maintainer conducts maintenance

A crew chief assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., conducts pre-flight maintenance on a B-1B Lancer prior to a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. BTF missions enhance the readiness and training necessary for bomber forces to respond to any contingency or challenge across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Jones)

Crew chief marshals aircraft

A crew chief assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., marshals a B-1B Lancer May 10, 2020. Aircrews from the 28th Bomb Wing took off on their non-stop Bomber Task Force mission to conduct interoperability training with our NATO allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Jones)

Maintainer talks to aircrew

A 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief speaks with B-1B Lancer aircrew from the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., during a pre-flight maintenance check prior to a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. BTF missions provide opportunities to work and train with U.S. allies and partners, while strengthening capabilities by familiarizing aircrew with air bases and operations in different parts of the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Aviator conducts pre-flight check

Aviators assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., conduct pre-flight checks prior to a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. BTF missions are intended to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective defense of the NATO alliance and are the visible demonstration of the U.S. capability of extended deterrence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Jones)

Avaitors attend brief

Aviators assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., attend a step briefing prior to a Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 10, 2020. BTF missions help aircrews become more familiar with operations in different geographic combatant command areas of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Jones)

Aircraft taxis

A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., taxis to a parking area following a nearly 24-hour non-stop Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 11, 2020. The U.S. maintains the capability, readiness, and will to defend interests globally, and will work closely with allies and partners to quickly and decisively respond to threats to partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quentin K. Marx)

Aviator talks to maintainer
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A maintainer from the 28th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., greets a 34th Bomb Squadron aviator following a nearly 24-hour round-trip mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 11, 2020. Bomber Task Force operations are intended to demonstrate America’s commitment to the collective defense of the NATO alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quentin K. Marx)

Aircraft lands on runway
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A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., touches down after a nearly 24-hour Bomber Task Force mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility May 11, 2020. These long-range B-1B missions demonstrate the U.S. Air Force’s global strike capacity and ability to deliver precision-guided ordnance against any adversary - anytime, anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quentin K. Marx)

People fuel aircraft
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Airmen from the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum Oil and Lubricants Section prepare to fuel a B-1B Lancer at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., May 8, 2020. The POL section not only distributes fuel to different aircraft on base and other equipment like generators and snowplows, but also performs spot maintenance on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quentin K. Marx)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth conducted a second long-range strategic Bomber Task Force mission in the European theater that included key interactions with U.S. assets as well as Danish and Polish forces May 11, 2020.

The nearly 24-hour, non-stop mission covered over 9,400 nautical miles and included integration and interoperability training with Danish F-16s overflying Bornholm Island, Denmark, and Polish F-16s and MiG-29s teaming up to overfly Warsaw, Poland, as well as overflights of Latvia and Lithuania.

“Bomber Task Force operations like this provide tremendous opportunities for our B-1 aircrew to work and train with our allies and partners to enable seamless operations,” said Col. David Doss, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “This mission is a testament to the long range strike capability of our nation’s bomber fleet regardless of conditions or basing location.”

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, provided key air refueling support that ensured Ellsworth successfully accomplished the mission.

This is the fourth time in just over four weeks that B-1 aircrews from South Dakota conducted long duration sorties that included operations in the Pacific and European theaters, demonstrating the shared commitment to global security and stability.

Despite the continued outbreak of COVID-19, officials noted that missions like this reaffirm America is committed to its mission in all domains (air, sea, land, space, cyber), and to the readiness of our allies and partners.

“The health of our team has been a top priority from the start of our COVID response and is key to sustaining missions like the Bomber Task Force,” said U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian. “Although mitigation efforts created challenges to overcome, our allies, partners and adversaries should make no mistake that we are ready, able and willing to deter and defend when called upon.”

Col. Chad Heyen, 28th Maintenance Group commander, noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for base aircraft maintainers, they have adjusted their operations and remain very capable of accomplishing their mission.

“Raider maintainers are some of the best maintainers the Air Force has to offer,” Heyen remarked. “No matter how bad the weather conditions are, whether it is day or night, or where the B-1 needs to go, Raider maintainers will move heaven and earth to ensure mission success.”

He added that B-1 maintainers are more “strategic-minded” than many of their counterparts on other airframes because they understand the powerful message of having a B-1 overhead.

“It lets our allies know we will be there if they need us, and lets our enemies know we can hold any target at risk – anytime, anywhere,” he added. “Raider maintainers make that happen. I could not be more proud of them and the work they do.”

More information and imagery related to the latest Bomber Task Force mission can be found on Ellsworth’s official website: https://www.ellsworth.af.mil/ and on the DVIDS hub at: https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/bombertaskforceeurope.

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