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B-1B Lancers support BALTOPS exercise

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off in support of Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. Two B-1Bs from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, dropped 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines while participating in BALTOPS. The inclusion of bombers in the exercise provides an opportunity for bomber crews to integrate and train with other U.S. European Command components, while exercising the United States’ key bomber capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off in support of Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. Two B-1B Lancers assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, dropped 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines while participating in BALTOPS which is an annual, multinational exercise designed to enhance interoperability and demonstrate NATO and partner force resolve to defend the Baltic Region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron tighten the firing mechanism onto an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. Two B-1B Lancers assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron dropped the mines while participating in BALTOPS which is an annual, multinational exercise designed to enhance interoperability and demonstrate NATO and partner force resolve to defend the Baltic Region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron unload six inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. Two B-1B Lancers assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, dropped the mines while participating in Exercise Baltic Operations which is an annual, multinational exercise designed to enhance interoperability and demonstrate NATO and partner force resolve to defend the Baltic Region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clayton Moore, 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons load crew chief, left, and Tech. Sgt. Michael Lewis, 345th EBS aircraft weapons specialist, attach an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine to the bomb racks in a B-1B Lancer at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. The U.S. Navy and Air Force worked closely together during Exercise Baltic Operations, which allowed joint services the opportunity to operate and enhance critical warfighting skills. Training during BALTOPS was conducted across several areas of expertise to include air, surface, subsurface, mine warfare, and amphibious operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron prepare to launch a B-1B Lancer during Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. Two B-1Bs from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, dropped 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines during BALTOPS which is a multinational, maritime exercise used to create and sustain partnerships and practice a broad range of mission areas to strengthen the capabilities of the participating units. More importantly, this exercise strengthens the ability to operate as a cohesive joint and combined force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron align 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines on a munitions assembly conveyor during Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. Sailors from the Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., worked with members of the 7th Munitions Squadron to build mines that were dropped by a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer from Dyess AFB, Texas, during BALTOPS, which is a premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Navy Mineman Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Esposito, Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., prepares the firing mechanism for attachment onto an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. BALTOPS is a multinational, maritime exercise used to create and sustain partnerships and practice a broad range of mission areas to strengthen the capabilities of the participating units. More importantly, this exercise strengthens the ability to operate as a cohesive joint and combined force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

U.S. Navy Mineman Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Gregware, Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., attaches the nose fuse onto an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. The U.S. Navy and Air Force work closely together during BALTOPS, which allows joint services the opportunity to operate and enhance critical warfighting skills. Training during BALTOPS was conducted across several areas of expertise to include air, surface, subsurface, mine warfare, and amphibious operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations
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A warning tag is displayed on an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine firing mechanism for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. Two B-1B Lancers assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron dropped the mines while participating in BALTOPS. The inclusion of bombers in the exercise provides an opportunity for bomber crews to integrate and train with other U.S. European Command components and NATO Allies and Partners, while exercising the United States’ key bomber capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations
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U.S. Navy Mineman Petty Officer 3rd Class Zachary Bourassa, Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., attaches a tail kit to an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. BALTOPS is an ongoing cooperative training effort in its 46th iteration. It demonstrates the U.S. and NATO’s transparent and predictable efforts to maintain joint interoperability and ensure ready and postured forces that are focused upon deterring and defending against regional aggression. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Athena Garretson, 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron munitions stockpile maintenance technician, and Navy Mineman Petty Officer 3rd Class Zachary Bourassa, Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., attach a tail kit to an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. The inert mines used during BALTOPS are designed to simulate the sonar characteristic of an actual mine, but do not have any explosive or hazardous material. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

RAF FAIRFORD, England -- Two B-1B Lancers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, took part in missions supporting Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) June 4, 2018.

The supersonic and Cold War-era B-1s conducted missions with inert Quickstrike Mark 62 mines, providing U.S. and coalition military forces the opportunity to train for the laying and recovering of mines. These inert mines are recoverable and reusable.

“Dropping naval mines gives the B-1 a lot of operational capability to complete the aircraft’s mission,” said “Hojo,” a B-1 pilot, assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. “It can quickly deliver large quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.”

BALTOPS, which began in 1972, is an annual joint, multinational, maritime-focused exercise. It is designed to improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. The exercise will involve maritime, ground and air forces to strengthen combined response capabilities necessary to ensure regional stability.

Training focus areas include air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations.

“We train how we fight,” said Hojo. “There is a lot of behind the scenes to working with mines, from building the munitions to dropping them on a designated target; you want to make sure that when you are called upon for a mission, that you can successfully complete the task the first time, when it counts.”

The inclusion of bombers in this exercise has been long-planned and provides an opportunity for bomber crews to integrate and train with other U.S. European Command components, while exercising the United States’ key bomber capabilities. These flights demonstrate the ability of the U.S. bomber force to provide a credible, flexible, and always-ready capability to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations, when called to do so.

These bombers will perform sorties in the Baltic Sea Region, providing support to NATO and partner forces. The exercise will enable the B-1 and its crews to enhance their combat readiness, so collectively NATO can immediately respond to a range of real-world situations. Training with allied nations and joint partners improves coordination between nations and enables the Air Force to build enduring relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.

The exercise enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea Region.

“We are here to reassure our NATO partners and allies that we have their back,” said Hojo. “The interoperability is a huge piece to our part in the exercise, but this is a great opportunity for our unit and everyone involved to do something they have never done before whether at home or in theater."