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Air Force deploys first complete Block 16 B-1s to Pacific

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Copeland
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

More than 300 Airmen assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to execute the first-ever Block 16 deployment for the B-1B Lancer Jan. 31.

Aircrew, maintenance and support personnel will generate B-1 sorties to demonstrate the continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region, providing commanders with a strategic power projection platform.

“The Block 16 makes the B-1 an all-round more capable aircraft,” said Capt. Matt*, 9th Bomb Squadron member. “With the upgrades, we are able to have a say in the fight and increase the connectivity between aircraft on a built-in network, making the B-1 more lethal, more deadly.”

This enhanced capability not only aids the crew of the B-1, but allows other military assets to be better prepared against enemy threats.  

“The mission of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron on this deployment is to project combat airpower for U.S. Pacific Command and to work with our allies within the region,” said Maj. Eric*, 7th Operation Support Squadron member. “They’ll fly a mixture of local training missions and power projection sorties, while also conducting coalition training to enhance the warfighting ability in the PACOM area of responsibility.”

The Airmen were joined by several B-1s and personnel later in the week, replacing Airmen assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

7th Bomb Wing Airmen have been training for several months by taking part in major large force exercises across the U.S. to prepare for this deployment.

“Every deployment and mission is different,” Maj. Eric* said. “The importance of this mission—this deployment—is to project American airpower and work with our allies within PACOM. We’ll be training together and improving those relationships.”

The Airmen of Team Dyess are tasked to bring long-range capability, speed, flexibility and modern defense avionics systems to the fight. As a multi-role heavy bomber, the B-1 can fly more than 900 miles per hour and carry more than 75,000 pounds of munitions.

“This deployment is a completely new mission for us,” said Master Sgt. Dawn Garza, 7th Maintenance Group plans and scheduling section chief. “After contributing to Air Combat Command for several years, this is our first deployment under Air Force Global Strike Command’s mission.” 

Garza said it was a huge difference going from ACC, who trains, equips and maintains combat-ready forces, to AFGSC who provides the combat-ready forces through strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations.

At the conclusion of this rotation, Team Dyess Airmen are scheduled to be replaced by the 37th Bomb Squadron assigned to Ellsworth AFB.

“The 7th BW did a fantastic job in a short amount of time to get everyone out the door,” said Maj. Justin Croteau, 9th BS chief of mobility. “Without the hard work of the wing and the base as a whole, the objectives we are supporting in the PACOM region wouldn’t have been possible.”


*Editor’s note: Members’ rank and first name given, last name is withheld for security purposes.