BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) — A 2nd Bomb Wing B-52 Stratofortress aircrew conducted a long-range bomber mission from the United States to the U.S. European Command area of operations Sept. 17-18, where they participated in exercise Immediate Response 2015.
During the nonstop sortie, which lasted approximately 30 hours, the aircrew flew from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, to Postojna, Slovenia, where they worked with Slovenian and U.S. joint terminal attack controllers at a range near the Slovenian town of Pivka to provide close air support to allied forces. Additionally, they conducted a low altitude demonstration for distinguished multinational visitors and leaders.
“This exercise sends a very specific message to our partners and allies in the region that the B-52 is prepared to provide immediate combat power anywhere in the world when called upon,” said Capt. Ryan Loucks, the 96th Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations, who was part of the support team that planned and launched the sortie. “Exercise Immediate Response affords our combat aircrew an outstanding opportunity to train with our coalition partners and foster multinational integration within the region. It also allows us to exercise our capability to transit multiple (areas of responsibility) on a single mission and achieve very precise objectives on the ground in a very realistic scenario.”
Immediate Response is a multinational, brigade-level exercise using computer-assisted simulations and field training exercises in Croatia and Slovenia. Exercise activities were designed to enhance regional stability, strengthen partner capacity and improve interoperability between partner nations. The exercise supports the goal of a “strong Europe” by preparing partner nations to combine forces, ensuring unified security across allied nations.
The B-52 mission, in support of Immediate Response, followed a series of similar partnership activities in the EUCOM area of responsibility. In June, three B-52s from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, England, where the bombers trained and integrated with U.S. and allied military forces during exercises BALTOPS and Saber Strike. In April, two Barksdale B-52s and two Minot B-52s performed a nonstop roundtrip mission to the North Sea and Arctic regions, where aircrews participated in dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with fighters from the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
According to Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, the 8th Air Force commander and the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike commander, the participation of B-52 forces in Immediate Response 2015 demonstrates the Air Force’s ability to integrate with joint forces while simultaneously supporting the nation’s efforts to build and foster partnerships with its allies.
“Exercises such as Immediate Response provide participating nations with the ability to plan, prepare and execute joint and combined training in a real-time, realistic setting,” Clark said. “For our aircrews and support apparatus, these events not only provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability, but they allow our bomber forces to train like we fight and exercise our long-range strike playbook in a practice scrimmage on the global gridiron.”
The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The aircraft can fly at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.