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Andersen B-52s participate in exercise, Australian airshow

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Don Perrien
  • 36th Operations Group
Team Andersen Airmen flew to the land 'down under' this week to demonstrate the capability and flexibility of the B-52 Stratofortress bomber to our Australian partners. They completed a series of scheduled Green Lightning exercise sorties at Delamere Bombing Range while also providing aerial flyovers for the Australian International Airshow 2007 in Victoria, Australia. 

The missions over the Delamere Bombing Range were flown under two different types of mission profiles. The first Green Lightning missions were 12-hour round trip flights beginning and ending on the Andersen flightline. Later missions saw the B-52s, along with KC-135 tanker support, landing at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin to fly sorties from a forward operating location. 

"We departed Andersen and received 80,000 pounds of fuel from the KC-135 tanker accompanying us," said Capt. Mike Maginness, a B-52 co-pilot with the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. "We continued our mission to the Delamere Bomb Range where we received permission to employ our six BDU-50 inert bombs.
"Along the way, we were escorted by and participated in joint training with Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force," Captain Maginness continued. "The tactical experience of those flights was great training for both us and our Australian partners." 

According to Australian Defense Force officials, this visit follows two similar and successful visits last year. Such training provides a valuable opportunity for the forces to work together and hone their skills at a time when our alliance has never been stronger. 

This Green Lightning exercise was the third time Andersen-based bombers have participated in the event. B-2 Spirit bombers completed the first Green Lightning exercise from Guam in July 2006, while the first group of B-52s completed their sorties in October 2006. 

Following the Green Lightning missions, the deployed aircrews performed aerial fly bys of the Australian International Airshow. For one member of the 96th EBS, the airshow support had special significance. B-52 navigator 1st Lt. John Coveney was raised in New South Wales, and graduated from Kingswood High School in Australia. The event marked his first visit to the country since entering the Air Force in 1994. 

"It was great to be able to show my family in Australia what I'm doing as part of the United States Air Force," he said. "My brother, his wife and five children drove out 10 hours to be able to see our B-52 at the airshow. I had a chance to talk to him by cell phone as we flew over Avalon, and he was really impressed with the sight of the B-52 knowing I was up there above him. 

"Unfortunately, I couldn't stay and visit with my family on this trip. My wife has never had a chance to visit Australia, and I want to show her where I grew up" Lieutenant Coveney said. "But I'm really looking forward to being able to come back on leave in the near future and visiting with my family back in Australia and talking about all the experiences I've had over the last few years." 

The performance of the B-52 and other Air Force aircraft on display at the Australian International Airshow left a positive impression of the joint cooperation between the U.S. and Australian flying partners. 

United States Ambassador to Australia, Robert D. McCallum, attended the Australian International Air Show, calling it a "celebration of the aerospace industry". The Ambassador declared the air show an "affirmation of the strong Australia-US alliance wherein participants' impressive capabilities and ideas for the future were showcased." 

According to Lt. Col. Jim Melvin, 96th EBS operations officer, support of missions in Australia is part of the reason for the rotational bomber presence in the Pacific Theater based at Andersen. 

"The United States and Australia continue to be close allies in our shared commitment to maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region," Colonel Melvin said. "U.S. bombers working side by side with our Australian counterparts provides both nations' armed forces an opportunity to build on that shared commitment."

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