B-1s Conduct Bomber Task Force Mission in South China Sea

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Joshua Sinclair
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

A pair of B-1B Lancers assigned to Ellsworth deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, launched from the island base to conduct a long-range strategic Bomber Task Force mission in the South China Sea on July 21, 2020.

During the flight, the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron conducted a maritime integration operation with the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group in the Philippine Sea. The B-1 and its crews demonstrated the U.S. commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific, while also displaying the ability to rapidly deploy to a forward operating location and sustain operations whenever called upon.

The non-stop mission – made possible with support from KC-135 Stratotankers from the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron and the dedication of 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit – took the B-1s to the South China Sea and allowed the bomber to fly for 14 consecutive hours.

“The BTF construct provides the flexibility for our bombers to operate in any area of responsibility and enhances our readiness,” said Lt. Col. Lincoln Coleman, Commander of the 37th EBS. “It gives us the ability to project air power across the globe.”

U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts BTF operations across the globe as a demonstration of U.S. commitment to collective defense and to integrate with Geographic Combatant Command operations and activities. Coleman noted these missions provide B-1 aircrews the opportunity to train with allies and partner nations they may work with in future operations.

“These missions strengthen our partnerships and increases our interoperability with a wide variety of military assets,” Coleman said. “Not only throughout the Department of Defense, but also with our allies across the globe.”

More than 150 Airmen and several B-1 bombers arrived at Andersen July 17 to conduct BTF missions in the Indo-Pacific. Col. David Doss, 28th Bomb Wing commander, said ensuring the base remains mission ready and able to deploy for missions such as these during the COVID-19 pandemic is why Ellsworth instituted restrictions and safeguards for its personnel from the beginning.

“Because our members often work closely together, one positive case can cause the quarantine of many personnel which can have a devastating mission impact,” Doss said. “These safeguards and restrictions are continuously updated based on the potential for increased risk of COVID-19 spread due to events that attract large crowds or an increase in out of town visitors.  The 28th Bomb Wing must always be prepared to answer our Nation’s call anytime, anywhere at a moment’s notice without fail.”