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345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron begins BTF mission

Photo of B-1 on flightline

A B-1 Lancer operated by Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron arrives at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Sept. 10, 2020 in support of a Bomber Task Force mission. The initial mission flew in international airspace near Wrangel Island and the New Siberian Islands off the Russian coast. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Airman prepare a B-1 for takeoff

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron prepare a B-1 Lancer for takeoff at Eielson Air Force Base, Sept. 10, 2020 during a Bomber Task Force Mission. The strategic deterrence missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to potential challenges and crises that may arise anywhere around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Photo of Airman marshaling a B-1

U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Rory Riggs, 343rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron crew chief marshals a B-1 Lancer at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Sept. 10, 2020. The bomber, assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, diverted to Eielson AFB the evening before to refuel. Members of the 343rd BS were already in place supporting a Bomb Task Force mission and were able to launch the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Photo of Airman talking on flight line at night.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron prepare a B-1 Lancer for takeoff at Eielson Air Force Base, Sept. 10, 2020 during a Bomber Task Force Mission. The strategic deterrence missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to potential challenges and crises that may arise anywhere around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Close up photo of Airman working on B-1

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lucas Kinney, 343rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron crew chief conducts maintenance on a B-1 Lancer at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Sept. 10, 2020. He is one of approximately 60 Air Force Reserve and active-duty Airmen supporting a Bomber Task Force mission conducting theater integration and flight training in the European and Pacific regions. The Total Force Integration package is an extension of the unit’s operations at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and is comprised of Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 489th Bomb Group and active-duty Airmen from the 7th Bomb Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Three B-1 Lancers operated by Airmen of the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas arrived at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, after conducting an initial sortie in the European theater Sept. 10 in support of a Bomber Task Force mission.  

The bombers flew non-stop for nearly 14 hours and conducted training in international airspace over the East Siberian Sea near Wrangel Island and the New Siberian Islands. The remaining BTF flights for the unit are scheduled to operate in the Pacific and European theaters to demonstrate U.S. commitment to peace and stability in those regions.

“These BTF missions demonstrate our persistence, agility, and efficiency, all while remaining operationally unpredictable,” said Col. Christopher Hawn, 345th EBS commander. “It sends the message that we are always watching, always ready, and relentless in our commitment to the mission.”

Though the strategic deterrence missions have occurred regularly since 2018, this BTF mission is the first multi-theater effort of its kind to be tasked to and led by Reserve Citizen Airmen, said Hawn.

The 345th EBS is a Total Force Integration effort comprised of Reserve Citizen Airman from the 489th Bomb Group and active-duty Airmen from Dyess AFB. The 489th BG is a geographically separated unit of the 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

Hawn explained that the TFI model used by the unit at Dyess AFB allowed it to respond in less than 40 days from initial mission tasking until commencement of the BTF. That turnaround was accomplished despite the short preparation time frame, the requirement to operate across theaters, and the precautions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This type of mission is tailor-made for us; it is in our DNA,” said Hawn. “The continuity, experience, and perspective brought forth by our Airmen allows us to extract efficiencies and overcome complexity.”

Chief Master Sgt. Noel Price, 489th Maintenance Squadron superintendent, said unit maintainers were eager to take on the BTF mission, despite the challenges it presented.

“This is huge for us,” said Price. “When the call came down, we had instant volunteers because they are hungry to prove what they bring to the fight.”

The B-1 Lancer possesses long-range characteristics that allow it to operate globally from a variety of locations. That capacity, coupled with its ability to fly at speeds up to 900 mph, provides the strategic unpredictability and operational resilience necessary for the mission.

Price acknowledged keeping the bomber maintained at peak performance will be critical with the personnel available, but said the nature of the TFI package lends itself to such situations.

“This is what we train for at home station,” he said. “We are built for this type of lean, agile mission.”

In addition to providing assurance to European allies and partners and providing strategic deterrence, the BTF mission will allow aircrews to gain familiarity operating in different theaters. 343rd EBS aircrews are also scheduled to train with other NATO forces to enhance interoperability.