A B-1 Bomber from the 28th Bomb Squadron takes-off during the 2012 Big Country Airfest April 28, 2012, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The 28th BS serves as the ambassador to the B-1 Bomber and boasts the largest and most experienced B-1 squadron in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Ebensberger/ Released)
A B-1 Bomber from the 28th Bomb Squadron takes-off at dusk Feb. 27, 2009, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The mission of the 28th BS is to provide the B-1 community with the most capable new combat aviators, while maintaining a current, deployable and relevant instructor corps. (Courtesy photo)
A two-ship formation of B-1 Bombers assigned to the 28th Bomb Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, releases chaff and flares while maneuvering over New Mexico during a training mission Feb. 24, 2010. The mission of the 28th BS is to provide the B-1 community with the most capable new combat aviators, while maintaining a current, deployable and relevant instructor corps. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
7/25/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With a lineage that dates back to World War I and a history unmatched by most, the 28th Bomb Squadron has played a role in the U.S. military for nearly 100 years.
Entering service in 1917, the then known 28th Aero Squadron, piloted JN-4s for combat flying training with units of the Royal Air Force.
Since 1917, the 28th BS, also known as the Mohawks, have flown multiple aircraft and participated in nearly every conflict since, flying combat missions in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.
Today, they serve as the ambassador to the B-1 Bomber and boast the largest and most experienced B-1 squadron in the Air Force.
"Our mission is to provide the B-1 community with the most capable new combat aviators, while maintaining a current, deployable and relevant instructor corps," said Lt. Col. Ryan Sweeney, 28th BS commander. "By nature of our mission, and our instructor and combat experience, the 28th Bomb Squadron is the B-1 center of excellence. Everything we do affects the community as a whole, whether it is training students, augmenting deployed squadrons, or leading wing and community high-visibility projects."
Each year, the squadron produces approximately 160 B-1 pilots and weapon system officers, keeping a steady pipeline of operators sent into the operational community.
During the six-month initial qualification course, formal training unit students complete 125 training days; 80 academic days and 45 flying days, which include multiple simulator missions and 11 flightline sorties.
With the bomber's ever increasing role in today's combat operations, aspiring aircrew are eager to take off in the B-1.
"The B-1 was my top choice," said 1st Lt. Tim Rak, student and future WSO. "It's part of today's fight, and that's something I want to be a part of. Whether it's motivating the guys or putting bombs on target, I'm excited to contribute to everything we're trying to do overseas."
Over the last decade, upgrades such as the sniper pod, laser-guided weaponry and new tactics, techniques and procedures have revolutionized the bomber, making today's new operators more lethal than ever before. Today's students leave the schoolhouse, and fly combat missions within months of graduating.
To shorten the mission qualification timeline at their operational squadrons, the FTU has integrated robust aircraft systems training into tactical training scenarios in their syllabus. They also added aircraft commander and mission lead training for the students with first assignment instructor pilots and MC-12 experience, thereby shortening their upgrade timeline in their gaining operational squadrons.
Because of the experience and expertise of the Mohawks, today's students are more adaptable.
"The length of the course hasn't changed much throughout the years, yet the information we expect these young operators to absorb and become proficient at has increased exponentially," said Maj. Tom Bowman, director of flying training. "As an instructor, you take a lot of pride in seeing your students leave the schoolhouse, and within months they're dropping bombs in combat operations."
In addition to ushering in the future of the bomber community, the 28th BS is where B-1 operators are trained to become instructor pilots, who continue a tradition of excellence by producing future aviators.
While they boast the largest B-1 squadron, their experience is also unparalleled, as the average instructor has more than 720 hours of combat experience, and more than 1,750 hours of total flight time - tops across all B-1 squadrons.
That being said, the 28th BS, first and foremost, trains students for the B-1 community.
"As instructors, we make the first impression upon the students for what they can expect from their B-1 careers," Bowman said. "We want our students to be proficient and prepared for what they will experience at their operational units."
However, being an instructor goes far beyond what can be taught in a classroom or simulator.
"We inspire and motivate them to exceed the best of their abilities," Bowman said. "The experience our instructors possess is invaluable to these students, and I believe it is a huge factor in the advancements our new operators have made."
Although the Mohawks first priority is to train students, they must maintain their tactical edge because the FTU augments operational B-1 squadrons in combat.
"With the training the bomb squadron provides our aviators, we are more than ready to answer the call at any time," the commander said.
In the last year alone, the squadron underwent the most intense tactical instructor training in the FTUs history.
"In less than a year, we have participated in 15 large force exercises, and had over 20 missions working with joint terminal air controllers around the globe," he added.
Since 1988, Mohawks have been the gatekeeper to the B-1 community, producing America's finest B-1 aviators each year. Peering into the future, they recognize the high standards placed upon them by Air Force officials to continue their reputation as the B-1 center of excellence.
"Above all, we will continue to train B-1 aviators, fight alongside our operation squadron brethren and help lead our community to the future," Sweeney said.