JASDF integration mission, first-ever landing at Iwakuni part of last B-1 BTF

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer with the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing, taxis the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Dec. 16, 2020. The Squadron is part of the Bomber Task Force that supports Pacific Air Force’s strategic deterrence mission and its commitment to the security and stability to the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Harmon)
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer with the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing, taxis the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Dec. 16, 2020. The Squadron is part of the Bomber Task Force that supports Pacific Air Force’s strategic deterrence mission and its commitment to the security and stability to the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Harmon)

JASDF integration mission, first-ever landing at Iwakuni part of last B-1 BTF

by Staff Sgt. Jimmie Pike
Andersen Air Force Base

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – Two B-1B Lancers took off from Andersen AFB, to conduct a Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission in the Indo-Pacific command theater, Dec. 16, 2020, integrating with Japanese fighters and making history landing at Iwakuni.

The 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, sent the bombers from the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS) to the Sea of Japan, where they integrated with Koku-Jieitai, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), fighters to conduct intercept training.

“We are ready 24/7, and bilateral training with [the U.S. Air Force] is very important to maintaining and strengthening readiness,” said JASDF Lt. Col. Shirota Takamichi, 204th Fighter Squadron commander. “We will continue to enhance interoperability with our allies and partners to maintain [a] “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

After completing the tactical training portion of the mission, JASDF fighters accompanied the B-1s to the northern part of Japan.

“Bomber Task Force missions in the INDOPACOM theater provide irreplaceable opportunities for us to integrate with our allies abroad, such as the Japanese Air Self Defense Force,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lincoln Coleman, the 37th EBS commander. “Combining the flexibility of BTF operations with training opportunities such as these not only improve our aircrew, but also our ability to integrate with our mission partners in a variety of roles.”

Soon after concluding training in the northern part of Japan, the B-1s landed on U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, allowing the Lancers to make their mark as the first bombers to land on the airfield.

“Hosting aircraft from the 37th EBS served as another opportunity to highlight MCAS Iwakuni’s ability to contribute to the joint mission in support of the U.S.-Japan alliance and regional security,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Lance Lewis, MCAS Iwakuni commanding officer.

Conducting operations with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Iwakuni demonstrates the ability to operate in a joint environment and reinforces the United States’ commitment to allies in the region.

“Integrating with fifth gen aircraft, such as USMC F-35B’s, from locations such as MCAS Iwakuni, highlights [the Air Force Global Strike Command’s] ability to conduct dynamic force employment operations in a variety of locations around the globe,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Horstmann, the 37th EBS director of operations.

The U.S. remains committed to the Indo-Pacific region, and will continue to seek out ways to train and improve readiness, with both fighter and bomber operations, alongside our allies and partners.

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