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Increasing interoperability: B-2s, B-1s join US Marine Corps, Australian Defence Forces in combined exercise

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Hovies with Command Element, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and Australian Army Sgt. Aaron Costas direct the flight path of a U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber at Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 24, 2020. Hovies is a native of Lebanon, Tenn. and Costas is a native of Imbil, Queensland. Within the training scenario, a combined team of U.S. Marines and Australian Defence Forces provided target information to U.S. Air Force bombers conducting deep strikes on notional targets. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani)

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Hovies with Command Element, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and Australian Army Sgt. Aaron Costas direct the flight path of a U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber at Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 24, 2020. Hovies is a native of Lebanon, Tenn. and Costas is a native of Imbil, Queensland. Within the training scenario, a combined team of U.S. Marines and Australian Defence Forces provided target information to U.S. Air Force bombers conducting deep strikes on notional targets. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, sits on the flight line of Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support a Bomber Task Force deployment, Aug. 24, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, sits on the flight line of Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support a Bomber Task Force deployment, Aug. 24, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Farrell (left), Staff Sgt. James Herrmann and Senior Airman Eric Henry, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons load crew members, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, load live weapons for B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber training at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 13, 2020. They, along with three B-2 Spirits deployed as part of a BTF.  As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Farrell (left), Staff Sgt. James Herrmann and Senior Airman Eric Henry, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons load crew members, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, load live weapons for B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber training at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 13, 2020. They, along with three B-2 Spirits deployed as part of a BTF. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, prepares to take off in support of a Bomber Task Force mission, at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Aug. 23, 2020.  As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, prepares to take off in support of a Bomber Task Force mission, at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Aug. 23, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

U.S. Marine Corps Col. David M. Banning and Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Stewart Dowrie assess footage from a RQ-21A Blackjack taken Aug. 14, 2020, of a B-1B Lancer airstrike. Banning is the commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Dowrie is the commander of Australian Headquarters Northern Command. The footage was part of a month-long exercise integrating Marine Corps, Australian and U.S. Air Force assets for rapid long distance airstrikes. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Scott M. Schmidt)

U.S. Marine Corps Col. David M. Banning and Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Stewart Dowrie assess footage from a RQ-21A Blackjack taken Aug. 14, 2020, of a B-1B Lancer airstrike. Banning is the commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Dowrie is the commander of Australian Headquarters Northern Command. The footage was part of a month-long exercise integrating Marine Corps, Australian and U.S. Air Force assets for rapid long distance airstrikes. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Scott M. Schmidt)

A U.S. Air Force maintainer assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, talks to the pilots of a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 14, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force -Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Air Force maintainer assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, talks to the pilots of a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 14, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force -Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Micheal Mendoza, a joint terminal attack controller with Command Element, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, left, and Australian Defence Force Sgt. Aaron Costas, with 102nd Coral Battery, communicate to a B-1B Lancer pilot at Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 14, 2020. The combined training allowed both Marines and Australian Defence Force members to learn how to communicate effectively to be ready to work together to to contribute to regional security. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Marshall)

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Micheal Mendoza, a joint terminal attack controller with Command Element, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, left, and Australian Defence Force Sgt. Aaron Costas, with 102nd Coral Battery, communicate to a B-1B Lancer pilot at Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 14, 2020. The combined training allowed both Marines and Australian Defence Force members to learn how to communicate effectively to be ready to work together to to contribute to regional security. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Marshall)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, lands at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support a Bomber Task Force deployment, Aug. 15, 2020.  As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Michael Hardy)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, lands at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support a Bomber Task Force deployment, Aug. 15, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Michael Hardy)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Driver (left) and Airman 1st Class William Farrell, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons load crew members, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, load live weapons for B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber training at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 13, 2020. They, along with three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers as part of a BTF deployment.  As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Driver (left) and Airman 1st Class William Farrell, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons load crew members, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, load live weapons for B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber training at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 13, 2020. They, along with three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers as part of a BTF deployment. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Marine Corps forward air controller with Marine Rotational Force - Darwin observes two B-1B Lancers after a successful air strike simulation at Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 6, 2020. Within the scenario, a combined team of U.S. Marines and Australian Defence Forces provided target information to U.S. Air Force bombers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by GySgt. Scott M. Schmidt)
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A U.S. Marine Corps forward air controller with Marine Rotational Force - Darwin observes two B-1B Lancers after a successful air strike simulation at Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 6, 2020. Within the scenario, a combined team of U.S. Marines and Australian Defence Forces provided target information to U.S. Air Force bombers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by GySgt. Scott M. Schmidt)

U.S. Air Force maintainers assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, taxi in the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 14, 2020.  As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force -Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)
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U.S. Air Force maintainers assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, taxi in the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 14, 2020. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force -Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Lee)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, takes off at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support a Bomber Task Force mission, August 26, 2020. BTF missions allow U.S. Strategic Command to provide persistent, long-term bomber presence to aid in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)
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A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, takes off at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support a Bomber Task Force mission, August 26, 2020. BTF missions allow U.S. Strategic Command to provide persistent, long-term bomber presence to aid in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, taxis for take off at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support of a Bomber Task Force mission, August 26, 2020. BTF missions allow U.S. Strategic Command to provide persistent, long-term bomber presence to aid in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)
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A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, taxis for take off at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, in support of a Bomber Task Force mission, August 26, 2020. BTF missions allow U.S. Strategic Command to provide persistent, long-term bomber presence to aid in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As part of their BTF deployment, the B-2s participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Australian Defence Forces. During the exercise, MRF-D and ADF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY, Diego Garcia --

B-2 Spirits and B-1 Lancers participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise in Australia’s Northern Territory by providing long-distance air strikes as part of a combined task force with the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Australian Defence Forces (ADF) in August.

B-2s of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS), deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia, flew roughly 3,991 miles, or 6,424 km, during multiple sorties to operate over Delamere, Bradshaw and Mount Bundley training areas in Australia.  Additionally, a squadron of KC-135s from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan flew to Darwin, Australia to support the bomber presence.

The exercise focused on a small naval expeditionary force’s ability to rapidly deploy, integrate with allies, coordinate airstrikes and call for close air support on targets within a contested environments.  

During this combined exercise, MRF-D and ADF joint terminal air controllers (JTACs) coordinated airstrikes with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and the B-2s before passing those same aircraft to tactical units to conducting dynamic targeting, which is striking unplanned and unanticipated targets. 

“It’s imperative that the U.S. Marine Corps and Australian Army work together,” said Australian Army Sgt. Aaron Costes, a JTAC with 102nd Coral Battery. “It’s such a feat that we can infill and have an aircraft come in from such long distances.”

The 393rd EBS bombers provided air-to-ground low pass coverage while U.S. Marines used both traditional and modern forms of target location and confirmation to call for coordinated, rapid-air strikes, including live munitions dropped on targets in a demonstration of the B-2 Spirit’s precision strike capabilities.

The B-2’s low-observable, or stealth, characteristics gives the bomber the ability to penetrate an enemy’s defenses and threaten heavily defended targets.  The B-1B is capable of tracking, targeting and engaging moving vehicles, and the fully integrated data link with Link-16 capability provides improved battlefield situation awareness and security beyond line of sight reach back connectivity.

Both nations’ JTACs also worked alongside Australian Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters and U.S. Marine Corps RQ-21A Blackjacks to identify and surveil simulated targets.

 “Airman and Marines integrate seamlessly together because we speak the same language,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Conant, Bomber Task Force commander. “We both understand how to maneuver cognitively and physically to achieve an objective.”

The training comes on the heels of the 2020 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations in Washington, D.C., between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds July 28. During the meeting, both governments’ officials reaffirmed both countries commitment to a stable, secure and prosperous Pacific.   

The 393rd EBS was deployed to Diego Garcia Aug. 11, and also conducted missions into the Bay of Bengal. The 37th EBS was deployed to Guam July 17 where it conducted missions in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and with Japanese Air Self Defense Force and the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

Both aircrafts deployed to the Indo-Pacific region in recent months as part of the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific for both the United States and our allies. The successful deployment and execution of these missions demonstrate the bombers of Air Force Global Strike Command’s abilities to deliver lethal, long-range, strike options anytime, anywhere to our allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

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