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Sun, Mar 06, 2005

First B-2s Deploy to Guam

393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron Is First Deployment Of Spirit Bomber To Pacific

B-2 Spirit bombers have deployed to Andersen AFB for the first time to support Pacific Command’s security efforts in the Western Pacific.  More than 270 Airmen of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base (MO), currently the only B-2 unit in the Air Force. They replaced the 93rd EBS from Barksdale AFB (LA).

The 393rd EBS is the first B-2 squadron to deploy here supporting Pacific Command's continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The bombers enhance regional security and the US commitment to the area, Pacific Air Forces officials said.  This rotation provides training to integrate bombers into PACAF's joint and coalition exercises from a forward-deployed location, they said.

"We feel that we have some great training opportunities out here," said Col. Curtiss Petrek, 36th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. "One of the things we do a lot with the B-2 is fly missions that tend to be a bit longer than the average sorties that most of the aircraft fly. We'll get an opportunity to fly those types of missions and to really practice some of the command-and-control communication links.”

Besides training missions, the Whiteman bombers need to acclimate themselves to the differences of flying around here, Colonel Petrek said.  "The distances are so much further apart here, and if you are going to fly a mission, you need good command and control. It's important that everyone knows the systems you have, how they are to be used, and that they are used properly," he said.

Although the 393rd EBS is the first B-2 squadron to deploy to Andersen, the pathway has been cleared for them by three previous B-52 Stratofortress squadrons, Colonel Petrek said. "The transition here has been pretty easy primarily because the prior B-52 unit deployed here worked with us well in advance to make our transition go (smoothly)," he said.

The bomber squadron consists of a variety of maintainers to keep the B-2 up and flying. "A large majority of us are maintenance specialists," the commander said. "We have quite a few systems that require unique specialties so we have quite a few Airmen with some very specialized skills."

The B-2 is distinguished from other bombers and fighters by its stealth capabilities and high aerodynamic efficiency, he said. "Probably one of the key things that differentiate us from other aircraft is the low-observable characteristics of the airplane," the colonel said. "(They give) the combatant commander an airplane to use in instances that other aircraft can't be used. This comes at some price, however, because it takes quite a bit of work to maintain those (characteristics)."

The B-2 commander said he expects the Airmen to make the most of their time here and to complete their mission as they have been trained to do. "One of the things we put a lot of focus on is to be able to put the airplane over a target when we are told to do it," Colonel Petrek said. "We practice and train to do those things (at Whiteman and now here) so if we are ever called to do it, we can do it and do it well."

(Our thanks to Airman 1st Class Sarah Gregory of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs)

FMI: www.af.mil

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