USE THIS ONEUnited States Air Force B-1B Lancers and B-2 Spirit bombers have recently participated in a combined United States-Australia exercise in the Northern Territory. The B1-B and B-2 aircraft flew from Guam and Diego Garcia respectively, and operated over Delamere, Bradshaw and Mount Bundey training areas during August. The activity saw the United States aircraft integrate with the Australian Army and US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, providing a highly advanced training opportunity.

The US aircraft exercised both live and inert munitions on the training areas allowing the Australian and US forces the opportunity to practice their skills in both traditional and modern forms of target location, strike confirmation, and damage assessment. While the B1-B and B-2 aircraft did not land in Australia, they were supported by US Air Force air-to-air refuelling aircraft that flew out of RAAF Base Darwin. The aircrews of the refuelling aircraft were managed under strict federal and territory COVID-19 requirements while transiting through Australia.

Sept issue
An Aircraft Director assists an ARH Tiger depart the flight deck of HMAS Canberra during the Joint Warfighter Series 2019.

Australian involvement included Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters and joint terminal attack controllers from Darwin based Army units.

The ability of both militaries to successfully complete this training during the COVID-19 pandemic is a demonstration of the resilience of our long-standing alliance cooperation. US bombers have been visiting Australia since the 1940s, with the first B-1B Lancer arriving in 1995.

In a release by the bomber task force, Lt. Col. Christopher Conant, the task force’s commander, said “we are sharpening our lethality while strengthening relationships with key allies, partners and our sister service teammates.” US Marine Corps Col. David M. Banning, commanding officer of MRF-D, agreed, saying, “we work better when we work together.” Banning said the success of multinational coordination of this scale is a testament to the U.S.-Australian alliance and defense ties as well as MRF-D’s capability as a forward-positioned force, able to quickly respond to a variety of security challenges. “MRF-D’s ability to integrate with our sister services located across the Indo-Pacific region and Australian Defence Force partners, speaks to our overall capacity to contribute to regional security. This unique training event has helped MRF-D demonstrate our capacity to coordinate actions across a wide area in a bilateral, joint environment,” said Banning.


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