B-1 bombers return to KOTA Territory skies - KOTA Territory News

B-1 bombers return to KOTA Territory skies

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An Ellsworth B-1 bomber as it returns from an Operation Enduring Freedom combat mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo) An Ellsworth B-1 bomber as it returns from an Operation Enduring Freedom combat mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)
B-1 bombers were launched from Ellsworth to conduct air strikes during the Libyan civil war.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane) B-1 bombers were launched from Ellsworth to conduct air strikes during the Libyan civil war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane)

The 28th Bomb Wing will resume flying local B-1 training missions on a very limited basis, starting today, Wednesday.

"Flying will be very limited, focusing on a small number of crews required for the 37th Bomb Squadron to maintain a minimum force in combat readiness," said Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander. "This minimum force represents only a portion of the total Air Force support requirements expected by combatant commanders."

Unless additional funds become available, Ellsworth airmen will fly this limited program through the end of the fiscal year. The current allotment of flying hours represents a small percentage of the flying time required to keep the entire 37th BS combat mission ready.  This partial resumption of 28th BW flying is part of a larger Air Combat Command decision to return select combat Air Force units to combat mission ready status.

The 37th BS, which is resuming limited flying operations, returned recently from a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia. The 34th Bomb Squadron, currently deployed to Southwest Asia, will continue to fly combat missions in support of ongoing operations until their scheduled return to South Dakota this summer.

The 432nd Attack Squadron (MQ-9 Reaper) also continues to fly combat missions in support of ongoing operations.

Reaction from South Dakota's Republican Senator John Thune was quick.  He says he is pleased that the Air Force understands the critical need for B-1 combat training.

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