10 B-52 bombers gear up for Australia
By 1st Lt. Tiffany Bares, 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron
/ Published July 09, 2007
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- B-52 aircrews assigned to Team Andersen, from the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron took their mission to another level by flying to Australia this week to demonstrate the long range capability and flexibility of the "Buff."
The mission consisted of 10 B-52 bombers flying over 4,500 nautical miles to the Delamere Bombing Range in Australia where they dropped four live 750 pound general purpose bombs and then flew non-stop back to Andersen.
This 4,500 nautical mile trip called for 12 hours of flying from Andersen to Australia's Delamere Air Weapons Range in the Northern Territory. As in many missions conducted by the U.S. Air Force, Green Lightning could not have been completed without fuel from the KC-135 Stratotankers of the 155th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. After departing Andersen, the bombers received 80,000 pounds of fuel which in previous exercises is part of the mission and training.
In November 2005, a joint agreement was signed by Australia and the United States which marked the beginning of regular strategic bomber aircraft training in the Northern Territory, about 70 miles southwest of Katherine, Australia. This program would involve the B-1B Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 bomber aircraft. The first Green Lightning exercise from Guam was flown in July of 2006, by the B-2 Spirit.
The continuous bomber presence on Guam is focused on enhancing regional security, demonstrating United States' commitment to the Western Pacific, and providing integrated training opportunities like Green Lightning. Lt. Col. Tom Hesterman, 20th EBS commander said, "The bomber exercises that we do in other countries enhances our military-to-military contacts within the Asian Pacific. It also enables aircrew members the opportunity to train within other countries experiencing different environments."
Capt. Frederick Cartwright, 20th EBS mission planning cell team chief stated, "This is the first time in recent history that the B-52's dropped live bombs in Australia." The exercise will test U.S. capabilities and provide operational familiarity in the region for the Pacific bomber presence as well as serve to enhance relations with the Australians.
This "Green Lightning" sortie is only the fourth of its kind, continuing a long standing and mutually beneficial program of combined training initiatives and exercises between the United States and Australia.
[Editors' note: Master Sgt. Art Webb, 36 Operations Group, Public Affairs, contributed to this story.]