Lancers are headed to Guam for the first time in 10 years, as US Pacific Command replaces the nuclear-capable B-52s with conventional B-1s as part of the continuous bomber presence mission. B-1Bs from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., will touch down later this month at Andersen AFB, replacing B-52s from Minot AFB, N.D. The deployment includes 300 airmen. The B-1 fleet has recently undergone a large-scale upgrade program, which forced the Air Force to return the aircraft from its continuous presence in the Middle East. “With a large weapon capacity and exceptional standoff strike capability, the B-1 will provide US Pacific Command and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform,” Pacific Air Forces said in a news release. The deployment marks the first time B-1s have deployed to Guam since April 2006, and the first time they have deployed to Andersen while aligned under Air Force Global Strike Command.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.