United States Air Forces B-52s Landed in Indonesia For the First Time – Earlier this week, a pair of United States Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers landed in Indonesia for the very first time as a part of Washington’s efforts to forge closer military ties with Jakarta. Though the countries have worked together for many decades, this marked the first time that the long-range strategic bomber was deployed to the Indo-Pacific nation.
The arrival of the B-52 bombers was first noted by the Indonesian-based open-source military intelligence analysts at JATOSINT (@Jatosint), which shared photos of the bombers’ arrival at Kualanamu on Sunday.
The aircraft had been deployed from Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam, from Minot AFB, North Dakota, and had only arrived in the Indo-Pacific earlier this month. Four B-52s and more than 200 airmen assigned to the 23rd Bomb Squadron, Minot AFB, made the trip to Guam.
Air Force Global Strike Command announced the arrival of the bombers via a post to social media, noting, “#Striker Airmen from @TeamMinot have brought the B-52 back out to the Indo-Pacific on a #BTF mission, to train & interoperate with Allies and partners across the region.”
The B-52 continues to log the miles, as another Stratofortress was sent to Europe and took part in a deterrent flight over the Gulf of Finland in March. That deployment occurred just days after a pair of B-52 aircraft from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron integrated with NATO allies in Eastern Europe.
A B-52 was also deployed to South Korea that same month.
The pair of Stratofortess bombers were escorted by three Indonesian F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters based out of Roesmin Nurjadin AFB. The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDs) shared images of the Indonesian fighters providing the escort, and noted, “U.S. Pacific Air Forces looks for every opportunity to train and exercise alongside allies and partners to demonstrate interoperability and bolster collective ability to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
It is possible, and even likely, that the B-52s will be participating in the tail end of Cope West 2023, a bilateral, tactical fighter exercise at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base, Pekanbaru, Indonesia, which began last week and concludes on Thursday. Approximately 100 U.S. service members have been training alongside Indonesian Air Force personnel in the field training exercise. Six U.S. Air Force F-16s and 7 Indonesian Air Force aircraft were reported to be participating in this year’s exercise.
Previous Trip to Indonesia
Though this is the first time that a Cold War-era B-52 Stratofortress has touched down in Indonesia, there has been previous joint training with the bombers. In early September 2021, the very first Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission involving the Indonesia Air Force took place. During that particular mission, four Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) F-16s based at Iswahyudi Air Force Base, East Java, teamed up with two B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, over the Sulawesi Sea, TheDrive reported.
Last August, Indonesia also hosted Super Garuda Shield military exercises, with more than 4,000 combined forces from 14 countries taking part – making it one of the largest multinational exercises in the region to date. The United States was also one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Indonesia in 1949, following its independence from the Netherlands.
The Long-flying B-52
Even after nearly 70 years in service, the United States Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress remains the workhorse of the bomber fleet – and will likely continue to serve in that role for at least another three decades.
The long-range strategic bomber first took flight at a time when fewer than half of Americans had a TV set, and when rock and roll music was seen as the hot new thing (not to mention a potential danger to the youth). By the time the bombers are finally retired, which is now scheduled for sometime in the 2050s, the B-52 will have been in service for around a century. Throughout its already impressive seven decades in service, the aircraft has been steadily upgraded.
Though 744 were built, with the final aircraft being delivered in October 1962, there are currently 76 in the United States Air Force’s inventory. Of those 58 are active with the 2nd Bomb Wing and 5th Bomb Wing, while 18 more are in reserve with the 307th Bomb Wing. Another dozen are in long-term storage at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) “Boneyard.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.