Fw: [demilnet_Hawaii] B-2s drop dummy bombs on Big Island

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From: mike reitz
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 7:46 AM
Subject: [demilnet_Hawaii] B-2s drop dummy bombs on Big Island

Posted on: Tuesday, October 30, 2007

B-2s drop dummy bombs on Big Island

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer


Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker here during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The bomber deployed as part of a rotation that has provided U.S. Pacific Command officials a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region.






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The Air Force's stealth bomber, the B-2 Spirit, dropped dummy 2,000-pound bombs at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island last week under a new agreement with the Army allowing the inert-ordnance bombing runs.

The batwing bombers have been used in the Koa Lightning exercises before, but the sorties on Oct. 23 were the first time B-2s were able to drop the nonexploding bombs at Pohakuloa, the Air Force said.

Maj. Brian Bogue, deputy chief of the strategy plans team with the 13th Air Force headquartered at Hickam Air Force Base, said the training policy for Pohakuloa always allowed weapons drops like the 2,000-pounders, but there had to be visual sighting of the target before release.

That was fine for a fighter, which could roll in and see a target, but bombers operate from high altitude.

"We do not visually acquire the target (with the B-2) but use our radar to acquire the target," Bogue said.

Pohakuloa personnel now have an understanding of radar bombing operations and have allowed bombers to operate within normal training procedures, he said.

Bogue said the Air Force's training "has greatly increased" with the availability of Pohakuloa for bomber practice using inert ordnance. In the past, high-altitude bombing was simulated.

The Army operates the 133,000-acre Big Island range, but it is used by all the services for aircraft, artillery and other live-weapons training.

Four B-2 Spirits deployed earlier this month to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri as part of a continuing bomber presence on Guam.

The B-2s replaced B-52 bombers. B-1 Lancer bombers also have been in the rotations to Guam since 2004, and are intended to provide a fast response to Asia and the Pacific and to act as a deterrent.

China is building up its navy and air force, and Russia in August flew two Tu-95 "Bear" bombers within several hundred miles of Guam in what some analysts have suggested is a return to an old Cold War strategy.

The westernmost military base on U.S. soil is being built up with bombers, 8,000 Marines being moved from Japan, and as a home port to three Los Angeles-class attack submarines.

Koa Lightning exercises involving bombing training missions from Guam to Hawai'i and back again are held throughout the year, but residents here are usually not aware of the training because the bombers fly so high and don't land in Hawai'i.

In June, four B-52s made the roundtrip mission, which involved intercept training with the Hawai'i Air National Guard's F-15 fighters.

Tactical air controllers from the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron at Wheeler Army Airfield honed their ground-based skills by calling in the B-2 air strikes during last week's training at Pohakuloa.

The tactical air controllers, or TAC-Ps, are assigned to Army units.

"Fighter attack aircraft can stay on station for 45 minutes and provide six to eight bombs. We can have a bomber overhead for two to four hours and provide four times the firepower that a fighter aircraft would," Tech. Sgt. Richard Setlock, who's with the 25th Air Support squadron, said in an Air Force news story about the training.

The Air Force said the targeting was done the "old-fashioned way" without laser targeting and global positioning guidance. Rather, the aviators used onboard instruments.

"This is the first time I've worked with the B-2, and I was actually kind of amazed by the accuracy, considering we weren't using precision weapons," Setlock said.

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com.



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