More bomber operations mean ‘the chess pieces are moving,’ US Air Force’s top officer says

Air Force B-52 bomber Baltic Sea

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The increasing activity of US Air Force bombers is part of a concerted effort to show that those planes can fly whenever and wherever they want, the Air Force’s top officer said last week.

“That’s the capability of global air power … and the ability to operate from and be prepared to go any place, anywhere, any time,” Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, told reporters on Wednesday.

Brown’s comments came in response to a question about this month’s deployment of B-1B bombers to Norway, the first time US bombers have operated from that country.

“Will it happen again in Norway? Probably a good chance. When? It could happen at any time,” Brown said. “This is all about competition, and if I told you exactly when it was going to happen, I’m not going to be competing, because you guys would report it.”

US bombers have been conducting shorter deployments overseas and round-trip flights from the US as part of dynamic force employment, a concept in which US forces aim “to be strategically predictable but operationally unpredictable,” Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Middents told Insider in October.

Middents led six B-52 bombers on a five-week bomber task force, or BTF, mission to the UK in August. BTFs are meant to demonstrate that flexibility — during Middents’ five-week mission, the bombers flew all over the region.

Another BTF last spring took B-1Bs over Sweden for the first time. Five times since mid-November, US-based bombers have flown to the Middle East and back on BTFs that US officials say are meant to deter Iran.

Bombers are also more active in the Indo-Pacific region, where the Air Force in early 2020 announced the end of its continuous bomber presence, a 16-year mission during which bombers deployed to Guam for months at a time.

BTF missions have “been really, really successful,” Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, head of Pacific Air Forces, told reporters in November, adding that in the first nine months of BTFs, “we’ve actually flown more of the bomber-type missions than we did in the last nine months of the continuous bomber presence.”

The first BTF under the current model was in May, when B-1Bs deployed to Anderson Air Force Base on Guam. Since then, US bombers have operated out of Guam, Diego Garcia, and Alaska, or flown from the US to train with partners in the region.

The goal of BTFs is “to regain bomber readiness with fewer continuous deployments and to complicate the targeting problem” for adversaries “by deploying and applying pressure at times and places of our choosing,” Brig. Gen. Jeremy Sloane, commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, said at an event in January.

“So far, bomber task force deployments have been fairly frequent, so we really haven’t been able to capture any significant lessons learned as we made that change,” Sloane added.

The Air Force is trying to keep adversaries guessing with those …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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