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Spirits begin to soar

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
Residents here can soon expect to see more of the distinctive triangular visage marking America's most advanced bomber.

The B-2 Spirits deployed here from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., are scheduled to fly their first sorties this week.

"The B-2s are normally deployed in garrison," said Lt. Col. John Vitacca, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. "For us, that means we are prepared to fly from Whiteman at any time to strike targets anywhere in the world at a moments notice."

While Lt. Colonel Vitacca's squadron goes "wheels up" for the first time on this deployment, he said the first large scale integration is next week's scheduled Koa Lightning exercise in Hawaii.

The Koa Lightning operations demonstrate the Air Force's unique capability to strike an adversary anywhere on the globe. The B-2s will take off here; refuel with a tanker deployed from the Ohio National Guard, engage their targets over the bombing range in Hawaii and return to Andersen.

These sorties are about 20-hours long.

"This exercise will provide good training for our crews as they drop weapons and integrate with ground forces at the Pohakuloa Training Area," said Lt. Colonel Vitacca.

While their flying operations begin this week, the B-2 aviators are quick to point out they intend to make their stay even more meaningful.

"There are some of us that want to explore volunteer opportunities while we're here," said Capt. Justin Grieve, 393rd EBS weapons and tactics officer. "I really want to find a way to give back to this community while we're a part of it," he said.

The B-2 is a very lethal shaft in the quiver of a combatant commander. The training opportunities with permanent party and deployed members of Andersen will sharpen the tip of the spear in America's bomber force, especially in the realm of combined efforts across the Department of Defense.

"I'm glad to see the B-2 operation up and running," said Col. Damian McCarthy, 36th Operations Group commander. "We have a great opportunity to practice joint operations across the board with a truly unique bomber. I'm looking forward to fully integrating the B-2s into the 36th Wing."

The B-2 Spirit's deployment here is part of a continued bomber presence for a variety of operational and regional security issues. Their mission is aimed at regional security enhancement, to demonstrate the Nation's commitment to the Western Pacific and focus on integrated training opportunities.

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