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Another First as Ellsworth B-1s Integrate With Ukrainian, Turkish Assets During BTF Mission

Aviator looks at checklist

An aviator assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., completes a pre-flight checklist in preparation for a Dynamic Force Employment mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, May 28, 2020. The mission provided ample learning opportunities for aviators from a variety of platforms to integrate with one another and become familiar with operations in different regions around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin Marx)

Crew chief waits to usher jet

A crew chief from the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., waits to usher a B-1B Lancer from its parking spot prior to launching for a Dynamic Force Employment mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, May 28, 2020. This long-range, long-duration mission allowed aircrew the opportunity to familiarize themselves with NATO allies and partner-nation air crews, airspace and operations in the U.S. EUCOM area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo Senior Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

aircraft takes off

A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., thunders off the runway, kicking off a 29-hour Dynamic Force Employment mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, May 28, 2020. The mission was not in direct response to specific actions taken by any nation, but rather enabled crews to remain ready to respond with lethal capability to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

aircrew don equipment

Aviators assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., don their flight equipment prior to a long-range, long duration Dynamic Force Employment mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, May 28, 2020. This mission highlights many B-1 integration “firsts” between the United States, NATO and allied partners in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

crew chief runs from aircraft before taxi

A crew chief from the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., prepares to taxi a B-1B Lancer before an approximately 29-hour long-range, long-duration, strategic bomber mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, May 28, 2020. Base maintainers conduct periodic inspections and intermediate-level maintenance work around the clock, in all types of weather at locations around the globe, to ensure the bombers, equipment, and munitions are ready for combat – anytime, anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo Senior Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

Crew chief conducts maintenance

A 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron technician at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., conducts pre-flight maintenance on a B-1B Lancer prior to a 29-hour, non-stop Dynamic Force Employment mission to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, May 28, 2020. The dynamic force employment mission showcases the B-1’s ability to assure NATO allies and partners, deter enemy aggression, and provide a strategic bomber presence anywhere around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Ellsworth added another “first-ever” to its long list of accomplishments when a pair of base B-1B Lancers integrated with Ukrainian Su-27 Flankers and MiG-29 Fulcrums as well as Turkish KC-135s during a long-range, long duration Dynamic Force Employment mission throughout Europe and the Black Sea region May 29, 2020.

The B-1s also integrated with Polish F-16s and MiG-29s, and Romanian F-16s and MiG-21s providing escort and combat patrol over watch in the Black Sea region. The B-1 bombers also joined Greek F-16s for an air policing overflight of Skopje, North Macedonia, during the non-stop mission that spanned more than 29 hours and over 12,200 nautical miles.

In addition to assuring NATO allies and world partners and deterring aggression, Col. David Doss, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, said the well-orchestrated mission clearly demonstrates Ellsworth’s ability to respond to any potential crisis or challenge around the globe.

“This mission proves without question that our B-1s and the men and women that support, maintain, and fly them are ready to respond to global events - anytime, anywhere,” Doss said. “It doesn’t matter if we are at home, in the beautiful Black Hills, or stationed abroad, we will always be ready when our nation calls.”

English, Turkish and U.S. KC-135 Stratotankers based out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, and other NATO aerial refueling aircraft enabled Ellsworth B-1s to complete the mission while also providing aerial refueling support to our partner-nation aircraft.
Doss attributes the success of this mission and others the base has conducted in the Pacific and European theaters to a multitude of things, but all tying back to the same theme: teamwork.

“That is what it takes to conduct the outstanding work and accomplish the achievements seen over the last month,” Doss said. “Whether at Ellsworth, or at the air operations centers that support these missions, or with our sister services, allies and partners … none of this would be possible without teamwork.”

Upon their return to base, maintenance personnel conducted post flight activities and specialists gathered data from the aircrews.

“Pure gratification,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Youngblood, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent. “It’s amazing to see the efforts more than 330 Airmen put forth to carry out any task asked of them.”

He was quick to add that like any high performance team, communication is the key to mission success.

“Airmen want to know the ‘why,’” Youngblood said. “They know they have a job to do and the ‘why’ gives them purpose and keeps them focused. Taking time to do that and having a well thought out plan helps keep them moving forward … and everyone’s eye on the finish line.”

Youngblood added that everyone tied to generating the aircraft have done remarkably well and continue to accomplish great things, even with the extra challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Social distancing has resulted in huge changes in the maintenance community, especially on the flight line,” he said. “We have had to develop B-1 specific and tool decontamination procedures, slim down on shifts, and learn to maintain operations with minimal capabilities.”

Youngblood said that the Aircraft Maintenance Unit went from Airmen operating on three shifts to spreading the same number of Airmen among six shifts, limiting large gatherings of professionals who work on the B-1.

“There have also been changes in agencies outside the flight line that changed the way we operate as well,” he said. “With all the mitigations, workarounds, and other issues … our Airmen proved to the world that when called upon, they will not fail.”

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