The Air Force is preparing to send B-1 bombers to Guam for the first time in a decade.
The Lancers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and approximately 300 airmen will deploy on Aug. 6 to Andersen Air Force Base as part of the military's continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific, according to an Air Force release. The bombers were last in the region in April 2006.
The B-1Bs will replace the B-52s from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The Air Force did not disclose the number of B-1s flying in for the next rotation.
The B-1s were actively involved the bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, returning to the United States in January for maintenance upgrades, Air Force officials said.
The Lancer, which can fly at 900-plus miles per hour, can hold 75,000 pounds munitions within the aircraft. Under Operation Inherent Resolve, the B-1s
dropped 3,800 munitions
on 3,700 targets in six months, according to the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth. B-52s in April replaced the B-1s in the CENTCOM region for airstrikes against ISIS.
“The B-1 units bring a unique perspective and years of repeated combat and operational experience from the Central Command theater to the Pacific,” the release said. “They will provide a significant rapid global strike capability that enables our readiness and commitment to deterrence, offers assurance to our allies, and strengthens regional security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
In May, a Minot B-52 at Andersen crashed at Andersen’s flight line. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. All seven aircrew members, performing a routing training mission, safely exited the aircraft the B-52H Stratofortress after the crash.
Pacific Command has maintained a rotational strategic bomber presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region for more than a decade to foster partnerships with allies, and to keep adversaries at bay.
In January, a B-52 from Andersen conducted a low-level flight near Osan Air Base, South Korea, after North Korea days earlier purported a successful hydrogen bomb test.
Oriana Pawlyk covers Air Force deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime, and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.