POSTED: 02:51 p.m. HST, Aug 22, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 03:29 p.m. HST, Aug 22, 2012
The U.S. Air Force will send a B-52 bomber and KC-135 refueling tanker from Guam to Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin later this week as the United States increases its training and presence in Australia.
The B-52 is assigned to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as part of a U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Air Force rotational presence in the Pacific, said Pacific Air Forces, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The aircraft landing at Darwin marks the first such event since the United States and Australia announced a U.S.-Australia Force Posture Initiative in November 2011.
The last time a B-52 landed at Darwin was in 2010. The upcoming B-52 mission follows U.S. Air Force participation in Exercise Pitch Black in Australia earlier this month, the Air Force said.
“This will enhance U.S. ability to train, exercise and operate with Australia and with other allies and partners across the region, further enabling the U.S. to work together with these nations to respond more quickly to a wide range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief, as well as promoting security cooperation efforts across the region,” Pacific Air Forces said.
Officials said the short-term training highlights plans by the U.S. Air Force to increase training with the Royal Australian Air Force. Decisions on future rotations are still under discussion, but the Air Force said it will be discussing details for future deployments to Australia.
The B-52 and KC-135 will conduct simulated ordnance drops over Delamere Training Range in coordination with the Royal Australian Air Force and practice aerial refueling operations.
“This event demonstrates our commitment to increased cooperation with our longstanding Australian allies,” said Maj. Gen. Russell Handy, director of operations, plans, requirements and programs for Pacific Air Forces. “This and future rotational deployments will enhance our bilateral collaboration, and offer greater opportunities to improve our ability to train, exercise and operate together now and in the future.”