A C-17 crew on a recent airdrop mission over Afghanistan diverted to escort a disabled B-1 Lancer to a safe landing back at the B-1’s operating base in Southwest Asia. “We were working a complex situation on the ground with some guys taking some fire and we lost our navigation instruments,” said Capt. Gavin O’Brien, 34th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron B-1 pilot deployed from Ellsworth AFB, S.D. He continued, “The C-17 heard us having some trouble in the radio and offered to bring us home.” After command and control relayed the bomber’s coordinates, the airlifter detoured 150 miles to lead the Lancer home to its undisclosed air base outside of Afghanistan. “They were up there flying blind more or less” and “had no way of navigating back out of country,” explained Capt. Justin Taylor, C-17 commander assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, who’s on a deployment from JB Charleston, S.C. (Southwest Asia video report by SSgt. Jose Rodriguez)
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.