ØRLAND AIR FORCE STATION, Norway --
A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron took off from Ørland Air Force Base, Norway, to participate in a Bomber Task Force Europe training mission, Spring Spear, on March 12, 2021.
During Spring Spear, the B-1 aircrew integrated with Swedish, Polish and Danish fighters and U.S. Marine and Norwegian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. The B-1 and crew also conducted the first-ever hot-pit ground refueling operation of a B-1 in Europe in Poland and Norway.
“We flew from here to Sweden where we were joined by two Swedish Gripen fighters,” said a 9th EBS weapon system weapons systems officer. “They flew with us in formation over most of Sweden and then took us to the intersection of Swedish and Polish airspace where we were met by two Polish F-16s who escorted us to Powidz Air Base in Poland.”
At Powidz AB, 9th EBS aircraft maintainers were in place on the ground awaiting the B-1’s arrival. Upon landing, the maintainers conducted a hot-pit refuel.
During a hot-pit, an aircraft is refueled shortly after landing without shutting down the engines or auxiliary systems, reducing the amount of time the jet spends on the ground.
Hot-pits make bomber operations more versatile by allowing the aircraft to forward deploy and temporarily operate out of strategic and unpredictable locations.
“The crew on the ground was phenomenal. They were fast, efficient and they all did a great job,” said the WSO. “We were green and ready to go an hour before we were scheduled to take-off.”
Following takeoff from Powidz AB, the B-1 aircrew was joined by two Polish F-16s who escorted them to the edge of Polish airspace where they were passed off to a Danish F-16 who escorted them through Danish airspace.
Then, the B-1 was refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker over the North Sea before returning to Ørland AFS.
Upon landing, the aircrew swapped out with a new team and ground crews conducted a hot-pit refueling operation as another B-1 was prepped for take-off.
Following the hot-pit at Ørland AFS, both B-1s took off to participate in a local training mission where the aircrew conducted a series of simulated bomb runs.
“We flew to the Setermoen range in Northern Norway where we worked with Marine and Norwegian JTACs,” said a 9th EBS B-1 aircraft commander. “We provided digitally aided close air support to the JTACs on the ground using simulated munition drops.”