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USAF bombers link up with RAAF in Top End

USAF bombers link up with RAAF in Top End

The long-range bombers have engaged with RAAF transport aircraft for a combined exercise over the skies of the Northern Territory.  

The long-range bombers have engaged with RAAF transport aircraft for a combined exercise over the skies of the Northern Territory.  

Two United States Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer bombers recently flew over the Top End for an air-to-air refuelling exercise with a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft.

The exercise aimed to support the bombers’ global reach capability, providing the US with a reliable refuelling source in Australia.

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The exercise also provided RAAF personnel with an opportunity to hone their skills in challenging conditions, while building interoperability with an international partner.

The B-1B Lancer bombers landed at RAAF Base Darwin following the mission, conducting a hot pit refuel supported by No. 13 Squadron aviation refuellers and USAF maintenance staff.

This marked the first time USAF B-1Bs were hot turn refuelled by RAAF using a JP157 hydrant cart.

“The safe and successful refuel highlights continued steps in our interoperability and provides validation for future USAF activities at RAAF Base Darwin,” Air Base Executive Officer and No. 13 Squadron Executive Officer, Squadron Leader Michael Moroney, said.

“This was also the first use of the in-ground refuelling pits for USAF aircraft on the US-funded extension of the bomber replenishment apron.

“The operational use of this infrastructure, which was designed to be used by USAF and RAAF refuel equipment, is an important milestone for both Air Forces.”

This is the latest of decades of deployments by the bombers to Australia, including as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation activities launched in February 2017.

Activities have included integration of fifth-generation capabilities, aero-medical evacuation interoperability training, and integrated aircraft maintenance activities.

The B-1B Lancer bombers are capable of carrying a conventional payload of up to 34 tonnes of guided and unguided ordnance.

The bombers are deployed for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions, previously operating at up to 60,000 feet over a range of more than 7,000 miles.

The first B-1B aircraft was delivered to the USAF at Edwards Air Force Base in October 1984, with the final aircraft completed in 1988.

[Related: B-2 Spirit bombers arrive in Australia]

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