Nearly 300 airmen and more than five B-52Hs from the 23rd Bomb Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D., have deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, on a four-month rotation, relieving about 350 airmen and eight B-52s of the 20th BS from Barksdale AFB, La., which had been on the Pacific island since June. The last of the 20th BS’s aircraft and airmen returned home to Barksdale this past weekend, a wing spokesman told the Daily Report yesterday. The Air Force has maintained a continuous bomber presence on Guam since March 2004 as a means of deterring aggression in the region while the US military is heavily engaged in Southwest Asia. Units of B-1Bs, B-2As, and B-52Hs are rotated to the island about every four months. During the 20th’s deployment there, the unit flew 182 missions totaling more than 1,300 hours in the air, including maritime interdiction and close air support drills, said Maj. Nicholas Russo, the squadron’s director of operations. The Barksdale B-52s flew with aircraft from seven allied nations as well as Air Force F-15Cs, F-15Es, F-16s, F-22s, and Navy P-3s. Tragically during the unit’s time on Guam, one of its B-52Hs crashed during a training mission July 21, killing all six airmen aboard. (Includes Andersen report by SSgt. Stephen Teel)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.