The U.S. Air Force deployed four B-2 Spirit bombers to conduct Bomber Task Force (BTF) missions in the Indo-Pacific region with key allies and partners from July 10 to August 12, 2022. The strategic bombers are assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri and flew to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley, Australia as part of a Pacific Air Forces Bomber Task Force deployment to conduct training, interoperability and strategic deterrence missions in the region.
This B-2 deployment was part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC), one of two Force Posture Initiatives (FPIs) conducted under the auspices of the U.S. and Australian Force Posture Agreement, which enables a rotational presence of the U.S. air forces and aircraft in northern Australia. This U.S. forces presence in Australia was designed to modernize and strengthen military-to-military relationships, facilitate interoperability, exercise combined capabilities and increase regional engagement. Through joint and combined training, operational resiliency, capability, and cooperation increased between U.S. and Australian armed forces.
During the one-month deployment, the B-2 bombers trained and integrated with RAAF F-35A Lightning II and F/A-18 aircraft, conducted aerial refueling with RAAF KC-30 tankers and hot-pit refueling operations on the tarmac at RAAF Base Amberley, and participated in Exercise Koolendong 22, a combined and joint exercise focused on expeditionary advanced base operations conducted by U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. soldiers, U.S. airmen, and Australian Defense Forces personnel across northern Australia. Koolendong 22 strengthened the U.S.-Australia relationship, advanced and validated interoperability, and demonstrated preparedness to respond to a regional crisis.
U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts BTF operations across the globe as a demonstration of U.S. commitment to collective defense and to integrate with Geographic Combatant Command operations, exercises and activities. U.S. forces along with Australian counterparts continuously increase force posture capability through recurring exercises and engagements, and interoperability including aircraft training missions.
“This deployment of the B-2 to Australia demonstrates and enhances the readiness and lethality of our long-range penetrating strike force,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Kousgaard, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. “U.S. airmen have integrated with their Australian counterparts in every specialty: fuels, logistics, maintenance, aviators, you name it,” he added.
In a further show of allied unity, U.S. Navy Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of U.S. military forces in the Indo-Pacific, visited RAAF Base Amberley while in the country for the 24th annual Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) conference on July 30. According to Adm. Aquilino, “This is the most consequential theater with the most challenging security issues… and advancing our interoperability with critical allies like Australia is critical to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” echoing Australian Air Vice-Marshal Joe Iervasi on the importance of training together and integrating Australian and U.S. forces.
“There are many aspects that are going on daily to continue to move the security relationship forward in a positive way to provide deterrence, prevent war, and maintain peace and stability within the region,” Adm. Aquilino added.
This deployment was in line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability. BTF enables different types of strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broad array of overseas and Continental U.S. locations with greater operational resilience.
“The only way to learn and improve is to actually deploy and practice,” Lt. Col. Kousgaard said. “We simply cannot operate effectively by ourselves in this environment, and learning to effectively integrate with our partners is absolutely critical to success. We’re training against that ‘tyranny of distance,’ alongside our Australian partners on this deployment, and that experience is truly invaluable.”
The last time the B-2s deployed to the INDOPACOM area of responsibility as part of a BTF was in August 2020.