Home Air US Air Force B-1 bombers fly fisheries missions in South America

US Air Force B-1 bombers fly fisheries missions in South America

Bone refueling
A B-1B Lancer approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker to receive fuel over the Caribbean Sea on September 7, 2022. Photo: US Air Force

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers took off from Dyess Air Force Base on September 7 in support of a bomber task force mission to the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility.

What made this mission peculiar is the fact that the bombers were tasked with countering illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations off the coast of Ecuador in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands.

While the strategic bomber might seem overqualified, or underutilized, on such a mission, this is not the first time the bombers have carried out similar operations. In 2019, a trio of bombers supported counter-narcotics missions from Dyess AFB.

The flights from this month also included integration with partner nations in the USSOUTHCOM area of operations and air refueling with MacDill AFB tankers.

Photo: US Air Force

“This kind of regional military engagement strengthens our partnership with Ecuador and Panama and enhances interoperability and improves our collective readiness for a range of potential future operations – from disaster relief to humanitarian assistance to security operations. When our forces train alongside one another we improve our ability to work together in times of crisis,” USSOUTHCOM leadership said.

“There are certain things that only Air Force Global Strike Command airmen can do, and this is one of them. Based on the Airmen we have in this room, we can fly this mission and then turnaround and regenerate in a matter of hours – we make it look easy, but it’s tough work,” said Col. John C. McClung, 7th Operations Group commander.

The 7th Bomb Wing embraces the unique challenge of BTF missions. This sortie marks the fourth BTF mission this year to include one BTF deployment to Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, one CONUS to CONUS mission to the INDOPACOM AOR, and most recently a CONUS to CONUS mission to the AFRICOM AOR.

Col. Joseph Kramer, 7th BW commander, congratulated the aircrews on their departure and pointed to the strategic significance of the mission. He said, “We are in competition in our own hemisphere. These bomber missions demonstrate our ability to respond to threats in today’s complex, dynamic and volatile global security environment anytime, anywhere.”