Ellsworth Airmen take on Pacific bomber mission as Dyess completes milestone deployment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Richard Ebensberger
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

Six B-1B Lancers and 350 Airmen with the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, deployed to Andersen AFB, at the end of July in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence mission. 

The 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron is assuming responsibility for CBP operations from the 9th EBS, assigned to Dyess AFB, Texas, which arrived here February 2017.

“It took every Airman at Andersen AFB to make this deployment and redeployment a success,” said Col. Scott Hurrelbrink, 36th Wing vice commander. “From our logisticians and support professionals that moved equipment and processed personnel, to our medical staff who provided care, to all our maintainers and operators who fixed, loaded and flew the jets, everyone worked tremendously hard to make this happen. It’s the Airmen of Andersen, whose commitment and abilities help assure our allies, deter our adversaries and keep us ready to ‘Fight Tonight.’”

For the duration of this current deployment, the 37th EBS will operate a fully upgraded fleet of Block 16 B-1s. The Block 16 update includes a series of improvements to the B-1s avionics, data-link equipment and other systems, all of which improve aircrew situational awareness, interoperability with other aircraft, and overall mission efficiency.  

These upgrades are of particular value in a region as vast and diverse as the Indo-Asia-Pacific, as demonstrated by the departing 9th EBS, who executed the first-ever all-Block 16 B-1 deployment during their deployment to Andersen.

The 9th EBS crews relied heavily on this state-of-the-art equipment while conducting a series of integration and bilateral training missions with the U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.

In July alone, the 9th EBS conducted missions that spanned from Guam to the East and South China Seas, Korean Peninsula and down to Australia. One of these missions was a bilateral mission with JASDF F-15s at night, marking the first time U.S. PACOM directed B-1s have conducted combined training with JASDF fighters at night.

In addition to this milestone, the squadron was also part of a collective military response to a series of increasingly escalatory actions by North Korea, including a launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) when two B-1s launched from Andersen AFB and conducted a 10-hour sequenced bilateral mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets.

Much of the success of these missions can be credited to the maintenance personnel that worked round the clock to keep the B-1s mission ready. While here, Airmen from the 7th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 36th Maintenance Group directly contributed to the B-1’s accomplishing 100 percent of all U.S. Pacific Command’s directed missions.

"The accomplishment of these missions is a direct reflection of our maintainer’s dedication and determination in ensuring their B-1s are ready to employ combat airpower at any given time,” said Col. Mark Sotallaro, 36th MXG commander. “Each maintainer brings with them a unique expertise acquired through years of training and experience gained from deployments, such as this, which keeps us mentally agile and mission focused.”

The 9th EBS B-1 crews were not alone in the sky; they relied on the dedicated support of KC-135 Stratotanker crews from the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron to ensure they had the fuel needed to reach their mission objectives.

Ellsworth B-1s were last deployed here in August 2016 when they took over CBP operations from the B-52 Stratofortress bomber squadrons from Minot AFB, North Dakota, and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

Pacific Air Forces is tasked with providing combat ready, airpower capabilities in support of any contingency response that may arise in this dynamic region. As Dyess’ Airmen depart Guam, it now falls upon Ellsworth’s B-1s, working side-by-side with their tanker counterparts and all of team Andersen, to be ready if called.

”The Department of Defense regularly evaluates our readiness and positions forces, such as bombers, to ensure we maintain operational and support capabilities to meet our obligations,” said Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander. “We are a forward deployed force that will be first to the fight when and if our nation calls. We are ready to fight tonight and are leading the way on ensuring that we can maintain our competitive advantage to fight tomorrow.”