B-1B Lancers U.S. Navy Live-Fire Mine Exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Quentin Marx
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force 28th Bomb Wing rapidly deployed naval mines during a live-fire naval mine exercise (MineX) Aug. 24, 2022.

The MineX improved interoperability between the Air Force and the Navy while strengthening their warfighting capabilities.

 “The exercise gave us the opportunity to help the Navy build and update their tactics, techniques and procedures for dropping live mines as well as disarming naval mines should they be used in future wars,” said Capt. Rob Gasper, 37th Bomb Squadron weapons officer.

A team of 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loaders armed a B-1B Lancer with a Mark-65 Quickstrike mine and the 37th BS deployed it in support of the joint force exercise.

“MineX allows Ellsworth Air Force Base’s weapon loaders to gain proficiency in handling and loading naval mines,” said Staff Sgt. Kurt Hillberg, 28th Maintenance Group loading standardization crew member. “This gives our weapon load crew members more experience and knowledge on munitions they normally wouldn’t have any experience with, increasing their capabilities.”

After the mine was loaded at Ellsworth, the bomber flew it to the west coast where the mine was deployed off the coast of California. Subsequently the Navy disarmed it.

A sea, or naval, mine is a self-contained explosive device employed to destroy surface ships or submarines and provide a low-cost battlespace shaping and force protection capability. Mines may also be used to deny an enemy access to specific areas or channel them into specific areas.

“I thought this was an amazing opportunity for my crew,” said Capt. Abe Morland, 34th Bomb Squadron weapons officer. “The majority of us, me included, have never worked with, or released mines, making it a very cool experience to work with the Navy and integrate with them.”

The Quickstrike is a family of shallow-water, aircraft-laid mines and the Mark-65 is a 2,000-pound mine used against surface and subsurface craft. The B-1 is capable of rapidly deploying more than seven battlespace shaping Mark-65s.