A year ago, the United States Air Force announced that it would nix its six-month bomber rotations at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) in Guam. Instead, it would make “less predictable” global deployments, which resulted in a variety of bombers being sent to the Pacific Island.
In correlation with a Bomber Task Force (BTF) deployment, four U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber aircraft returned to Andersen AFB earlier this month to conduct operations in the Indo-Pacific region. The bombers were deployed from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and were sent to Guam to support U.S Indo-Pacific Command and Pacific Air Forces’ training efforts with joint forces and partners.
In a statement, the Air Force said that BTF deployments are meant to reinforce U.S. commitment to peace and stability in the region. Such deployments have been a regular occurrence since 2014, and further, provide U.S. Strategic Command an opportunity to evaluate and improve the readiness of strategic assets within the Indo-Pacific region. These BTFs provide a persistent, long-term bomber presence in the Indo-Pacific theater and around the globe.
“The Air Force is currently working in a complex, dynamic, and sometimes volatile global security environment,” said Col. Mark Dmytryszyn, 2nd BW Commander. “It is our charge to regularly conduct these joint and combined security cooperation engagements across different Geographic Combatant Commands and their areas of operation.”
This most recent BTF deployment focused on the employment of the B-52 rather than the B-1 Lancer, which has been used in the past.
“These BTF missions demonstrate the strategic credibility and tactical flexibility of our forces to address today’s matters,” said Dmytryszyn. “As an aircraft capable of employing with a wide variety of nuclear and conventional weapons, delivered across a continent-spanning range, employing global joint all-domain command and control systems, the B-52 remains a universally-recognized symbol of America’s assurances to our Allies, our partners, and the world.”
The Air Force had deployed a B-52H from Barksdale AFB last July Fourth in a twenty-eight-hour mission that was also meant to demonstrate the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s commitment to the security and stability of the region–and that means deterring foes like China and North Korea.
Despite the fact that the B-52 was developed in the early Cold War and entered service in the late 1950s, the aircraft could remain operational for decades to come. The bombers have flown under various commands during the past six decades, beginning with the Strategic Air Command (SAC), until it was disestablished at the end of the Cold War in 1992, when its aircraft were absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC). Since 2010, all B-52 Stratofortresses fly under the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC).
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.