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Stratofortresses test operational skills in Koa Lightning

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Arthur Webb
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
Deployed B-52 bombers and aircrews demonstrated the Air Force's global reach and global power by participating in the latest Koa Lightning exercise this week Aug. 22 through 23.

The 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., flew 18 hours non-stop from Guam to Hawaii and back in the exercise, which is similar to a combat sortie, to participate in scenarios designed to sharpen the combat skills and test the endurance of its aircrews.

The flights included a scenario where aircrews simulated engaging ground targets in Hawaii. 

The aircrews practiced defensive tactics and measures while simulating dropping their bombs on target. 

"These training missions are valuable to our aircrews as it simulates likely conditions they could encounter in combat. Crews are better prepared when we train like we fight," said, Lt. Col. Tom Hesterman, 20th EBS commander.

Flights also incorporated mid-air refueling operations with KC-135 Stratotankers. "Tankers are key enablers that demonstrate our ability to operate as a cohesive team and extend the lethal range of our bombers as well as enhancing our flexibility," Colonel Hesterman added. Mid-air refueling allows the receiving aircraft to remain airborne longer and extend its range and those of its weapons systems demonstrating U.S. global reach and global power.

According to U.S. Pacific Command officials, the bombers participation in exercises while deployed emphasizes the U.S. bomber presence, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the Pacific region.

As part of the continuous bomber presence in the Pacific region, the U.S. routinely deploys forces to the Western Pacific to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence for the region and demonstrate a continued U.S. commitment to fulfilling security responsibilities throughout the Western Pacific.

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