Air Force Sends B-2 Stealth Bombers to Hawaii for Exercises

A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is parked on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 10, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/2nd Lt. Allen Palmer)
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is parked on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 10, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/2nd Lt. Allen Palmer)

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and more than 200 airmen landed this week at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for training in the Pacific.

The nuclear-capable aircraft from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, arrived as part of a routine U.S Strategic Command-led Bomber Task Force mission, Air Force officials said Friday.

"This training is crucial to maintaining our regional interoperability," said Lt. Col. Joshua Dorr, 393rd Bomb Squadron director of operations, in a release. "It affords us the opportunity to work with our allies in joint exercises and validates our always-ready global strike capability."

Last year, B-2 Spirit bombers conducted their first-ever rotation to Hickam and executed missions with their F-22 Raptor stealth fighter counterparts, giving pilots a sense of how the two aircraft would pair in a high-threat environment.

The latest deployment marks only the second time B-2s have deployed to Hawaii, as the Spirit often deploys instead to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, when training with Pacific allies and partners.

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During their last stint in Hawaii, training focused on integrating with F-22s from the 199th Fighter Squadron, 154th Wing, under the Hawaii Air National Guard. F-22s escorted the heavy bombers in simulated exercises, providing extra situational awareness during the mission, officials said at the time.

Additionally, airmen supporting the operations also practiced hot-pit refueling -- or keeping aircraft engines running on the flight line while the plane takes on fuel -- and loading inert BDU-50 bombs in the B-2's bomb bay, the Air Force said.

A B-2 also flew to the Pacific in 2017 to demonstrate the nation’s commitment to partners and allies while North Korea conducted missile tests.

Its presence at the time marked a return for the B-2 -- capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons -- to the theater since a trio of the bombers wrapped up training exercises earlier in the year with the Australian Air Force.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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