The US had dispatched three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers to its facility in Diego Garcia, in the British Indian Ocean Territory, to respond to rising regional tensions.
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Conant, BTF commander, said, “We are excited to return to this important location. (NSF) Diego Garcia puts the ‘INDO’ in US Indo-Pacific Command.”
US Strategic Command routinely conducts BTF operations across the globe.
The last B-2 Spirit BTF deployed to INDOPACOM was in January 2019 from the 393rd Bomb Squadron from Whiteman AFB. Three B-2 Spirits and approximately 200 Airmen deployed to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
“This Bomber Task Force is our National Defense Strategy in action. We are sharpening our lethality while strengthening relationships with key allies, partners and our sister-service teammates. Despite a global pandemic, the Airmen of Whiteman Air Force Base and Air Force Global Strike Command stand ready to support INDOPACOM and the Department of Defense in achieving our nation’s strategic objectives,” Lt Col Conant explained.
During that BTF deployment, the B-2s flew 27 sorties for a total of 171 hours in multiple local and long-duration missions, conducted hot-pit refuelling training, and accomplished eight integrated sorties with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptors.
The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the US bomber modernisation program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defences.
The B-2 provides the penetrating flexibility and effectiveness inherent in manned bombers. Its low-observable, or “stealth”, characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defences and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets. Its capability to penetrate air defences and threaten effective retaliation provides a strong, effective deterrent and combat force well into the 21st century.
The B-2’s low observability is derived from a combination of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual and radar signatures. These signatures make it difficult for the sophisticated defensive systems to detect, track and engage the B-2. Many aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B-2’s composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to its “stealthiness”.
The B-2 has a crew of two pilots, a pilot in the left seat and mission commander in the right, compared with the B-1B’s crew of four and the B-52’s crew of five.