Joint US-Australian Exercise Black Dagger

US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers have deployed from their forward base at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to fly a bilateral integration training mission with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The Exercise took place in October and US B-1B Lancers during long 12-hour sortie ade use of simulated and inert weapons. Those were directed by Australian JTACs. JTAC is an shortcut from Joint Terminal Attack Controller. JTACs direct the action of combat aircraft operating in CAS (Close Air Support) and other offensive operations, calling in airstrikes and gun runs. Each JTAC is A qualified (certified) Service member who, from a forward position, directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other offensive air operations.

The B-1B Lancer, nicknamed by USAF airmen “The Bone,” is a long-range, multi-mission, supersonic conventional bomber, which has served the United States Air Force since 1985. The aircraft is on track to continue flying, at current demanding operations tempo, out to 2040 and beyond, and Boeing partners with the Air Force to keep the B-1 mission ready. Originally designed for nuclear capabilities, the B-1 switched to an exclusively conventional combat role in the mid-1990s. In 1999, during Operation Allied Force, six B-1s flew 2 percent of the strike missions, yet dropped 20 percent of the ordnance, and during Operation Enduring Freedom the B-1 flew on 2 percent of the sorties while dropping over 40 percent of the precision weapons. The B-1 has been nearly continuously deployed in combat operations over Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

USA and Australia are strong allies, according to the statement of the Brig Gen Stephen Williams (Pacific Air Forces Director of Air and Cyberspace Operations): “Joint exercises like these validate our ability to train and operate together seamlessly and ensures our ability to collectively respond cohesively if necessary.”

Author: Daniel Kasprzyck

Sources: ‘Bones’ on Black Dagger, http://www.airforcesmonthly.com; Boeing. B-1B Lancer http://www.boeing.com
Photo: Amazing photo of the B-1B Lancer, assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, flying over the South Pacific Ocean. (USAF/Airman 1st Class Gerald R Willis)

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