The U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) announced this week that it conducted joint long-range bombing exercises with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
B-52 Stratofortress bombers based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, along with the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and units from the Canadian Air Force participated in the training which lasted from Oct. 20 through Oct. 23. The exercises were conducted in and around the area of Goose Bay, Canada, according to USSTRATCOM in a statement issued via email.
USSTRATCOM said the training gives bomber crews valuable experience in conducting long-range global-strike operations, while working alongside Canadian and NORAD forces.
“Integrating U.S. bombers into allied training events supports a strong, credible bomber force that is essential to enhancing regional security while remaining committed to our allies,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander, in the statement. “Continuing to train the strategic bomber force in a variety of environments is important to retaining key skill sets and remaining ready to confront a variety of potential threats.”
The venerable B-52 family of bombers has been a mainstay in the United States strategic arsenal for more than 60 years. The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber with global-strike capability, that can deliver massive bomb payloads, including nuclear ordnance, to targets anywhere in the world. USSTRATCOM said it conducts these training missions to ensure that the U.S. has a credible and flexible capability to respond to a variety of potential threats worldwide.
Additionally, the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) conducted an unarmed launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, equipped with a test reentry vehicle, from Vandenburg Air Force Base on Oct. 21. The AFGSC said that the ICBM’s reentry vehicle contained an operational testing package and traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The tests are designed to verify the accuracy and reliability of the missiles and provide data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, according to the AFGSC.
Test missiles are randomly selected to be fired from bases, located at F.E. Warren, Malmstrom, and Minot air bases. The U.S. maintains missile fields in locations throughout Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska where the weapons are kept in a continuous state of readiness.
“We stand ready, every minute of every day, and we know our jobs well,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Uresti Jr., a combat crew commander with the 320th Missile Squadron. “We literally hold the keys to the most powerful weapons ever developed and we ensure the safety and reliability of these weapons.”
Uresti said ICBM test launches also act as a deterrent by providing an opportunity to show the world that the U.S. has the capability and will to use these weapons should it be necessary.