Home Air US, Japan stage snap bomber-fighter drill over Pacific

US, Japan stage snap bomber-fighter drill over Pacific

Bomber Task Force mission over Japan
B-1B Lancer with JASDF F-2s off the coast of Northern Japan, April 22. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force’s demonstrated its version of the dynamic force employment model as a B-1B Lancer bomber flew from the continental United States for integrated training with Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) aircraft near Japan, on April 22.

The B-1, flew a 30-hour round-trip sortie from Ellsworth Air Force Base to the Indo-Pacific and teamed up with six US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, seven JASDF F-2s and eight JASDF F-15s over Draughon Range near Misawa.

The flight was part of a joint US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission.

In line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability, the US Air Force transitioned its force employment model to enable strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas and CONUS locations with greater operational resilience.

The US Navy has previously demonstrated its dynamic force employment concept with multiple shorter deployments of aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

“Like the advancements of our agile combat employment concept of operations, we continue to innovate and adapt our approach, to include how we deploy and employ the various weapons systems we integrate with our allies and partners,” Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Pacific Air Forces and INDOPACOM Air Component commander, said. “Bringing the B-1 into theater ensures our bilateral interoperability accounts for any combination of flying operations to prepare for and outpace the rapidly growing threats in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Photo: US Air Force

This marks the second CONUS-based bomber bilateral training to occur this year with the JASDF. On Feb. 3, two B-52s integrated with six USAF F-16s and more than 45 JASDF fighter aircraft in the vicinity of Misawa Air Base, Japan. Those bombers flew from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

“The rapid employment of airpower directly supports the National Defense Strategy and assures we can provide overwhelming force anywhere, anytime in support of American interests or our Allies and partners,” said Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces-Strategic commander. “This mission is a demonstration to our friends throughout the region: we will continue to remain fully predictable in our commitment to ensuring peace, while also demonstrating that we have the ability to operate from numerous locations across the globe, even during the global pandemic.”

The last time the B-1 was in the INDOPACOM area of responsibility was January 2018, when the airframe and crews completed a six-month continuous bomber presence mission at Andersen. During that time, the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Dyess Force Base, Texas, conducted a number of sequenced bilateral missions with the Republic of Korea Air Force and the JASDF.

USSTRATCOM has conducted BTF missions (previously known as Bomber Assurance and Deterrence missions) since 2014. The first mission included B-52H Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirits traveling from the continental United States to Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam in April 2014.