B-52 brings thunder to Red Flag skies

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  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The B-52, a strategic heavy bomber, has proven to be a dominating force not only in exercises such as Red Flag, but in many contingency operations around the world.

Red Flag provides an opportunity for these 96th BS Airmen to test and improve their skillsets with the almost 60 year-old air frame.

“The experience that we gain here, integrating with both Combat Air Forces and joint forces, is invaluable training during both mission planning and execution,” said Capt. Kenneth, 96th BS weapons systems officer. “This joint integration, while solving extremely complicated problems, allows us to discover the best practices and how we as a community can better employ as a striker in a variety of mission types.

“We are capable of a wide variety of mission types due to the various weapons that we are capable of carrying. Primarily our role here (at Nellis AFB) is air interdiction, tasked with striking the majority of air tasking order assigned targets.”

The B-52 is capable of holding more than 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance including bombs, mines and missiles.

“B-52s are able to destroy large target sets with one aircraft,” said Capt. Benjamin, 96th BS pilot. “We also support the fight with standoff munitions and decoys. Our standoff munitions and decoys degrade air defenses opening the doors for an attack deep in enemy territory.”

The lessons learned during the Red Flag exercises are invaluable.

“Integrating with air, space, and cyberspace is challenging, because there are certain things we don't know,” said Benjamin. “Red Flag provides us with the opportunity to sit down with experts from each community and learn how each fits into the big picture plan. This helps us to become better aviators and stewards of air power.”

This particular Red Flag is a U.S.-only exercise operating at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), the Air Force’s premier military training area with more than 15,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land.

“It's not every day that we get to play in a large force exercise with representatives from all platforms,” said Benjamin. “We are preparing for a deployment, so my main goal is prepare for combat. Anytime we can fly and walk away with lessons learned, the mission is a success.”