Home Air B-52 bomber integrates with two US Navy carriers over South China Sea

B-52 bomber integrates with two US Navy carriers over South China Sea

Photo: US Navy

A US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber from the 96th Bomb Squadron took off from Louisiana earlier this week to take part in a rare maritime integration exercise with aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea.

The B-52 flew a 28-hour mission in the Indo-Pacific region before landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on July 4.

During the mission, the B-52 aircrew tested and assessed command and control capabilities to inform the development of contested and degraded communication tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure seamless joint interoperability.

According to the air force, this was part of a bomber task force dynamic force employment used by US Strategic Command to conduct training with and in support of geographic combatant commands efforts to help maintain global stability and security.

“As we operate throughout the Indo-Pacific theater, our fleet units continue to seek out every opportunity to strengthen our capabilities and proficiency at conducting joint, combined, all-domain operations with our partner teams,” said US Navy Cmdr. Joshua Fagan, Task Force 70 Air Operations officer. “Some of the recent events bringing Air Force B-52s and B-1s, Navy aircraft, and our ships at sea together on shared networks in support of integrated missions have been good opportunities for us to exercise the joint mission planning and coordination processes that we depend on to operate safely and effectively out here.”

US Navy dual carrier operations in South China Sea

The joint operations currently being undertaken by carrier strike groups centered around USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan are part of what the navy refers to as a “carrier strike force”. The carrier strike force conducted several tactical exercises designed to maximize air defense capabilities, and extend the reach of long range precision maritime strikes from carrier-based aircraft.

Air defense in a carrier strike force incorporates the capabilities of the embarked fixed and rotary wing aircraft, along with Aegis guided-missile cruisers and destroyers. This provides multi-layered, early detection capabilities to defend against potential airborne threats.

During air defense and strike exercises, aircraft from Nimitz and Reagan simulate enemy attacks testing the force’s ability to detect, intercept, and engage threats. The exercises increase pilot proficiency while giving shipboard tactical watch standers hands-on experience coordinating defense in a realistic environment.

USS Nimitz is taking part in dual carrier operations with USS Ronald Reagan just days after completing a similar set of maneuvers with USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in the Philippine Sea.

Super Hornet flies over the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Photo: US Navy