USA B-1B Lancer bombers swoop Down Under to train with Australian refuelers

The B-1B Lancer bombers flew 3,700 miles from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean for drills at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia’s Department of Defence said in a statement Tuesday.

The drill allowed U.S. and Australian aviators to work together in challenging conditions, Air Commodore Stephen Chappell, director general of Australia’s Air and Space Operations Centre, said in the statement.

The B-1B is the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force and can carry a conventional payload of up to 37.4 tons of guided and unguided ordnance.

Australian aviators trained with B-1B crews on Guam in 2020, according to the Australian statement.

The B-1Bs rendezvoused over the Timor Sea with two Australian tankers, which transferred fuel to them at an altitude of 30,000 feet, according to the statement. Expect to see more in future...

Celebrating expanded defence cooperation

The USFPI are an extension of Australia’s existing Defence relationship with the US and support the common interest of promoting regional security and stability.

The MRF-D has grown in size and complexity since the first rotation of US Marines through Darwin in 2012. In 2019, the goal of 2500 US Marines training with the ADF stationed in Darwin was reached.

The structure of MRF-D continues to evolve in response to the changing environment and advances in technology, with the focus shifting to capability rather than numbers. Highly complex joint training scenarios are now being executed, which continue to challenge our forces and better prepare us to rapidly respond in the region, if and when called upon to do so.

This year, about 2200 US Marines and sailors conducted a comprehensive range of training activities, including humanitarian assistance, security operations and high-end, live-fire exercises – exercises that develop enhanced interoperability between the ADF and US Marines and key partners.

At AUSMIN in September 2021, Australia and the USA announced the agreement to enhance force posture cooperation in four key areas to: establish an integrated logistics capability, expand existing enhanced air cooperation, enhance maritime sustainment cooperation, evolve bilateral and multilateral operations and exercises.

US B-1B Lancer Bombers Swoop Down Under to Train with Australian Refuelers

A pair of Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew over northern Australia during a training mission Monday, according to Australia’s Department of Defence.

Expect to see more B-1Bs in Australia in future, according to Ross Babbage, a former Australian assistant defense secretary.

The AUKUS defense pact announced by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States in September includes provisions to make it easier for allied ships and aircraft to operate Down Under, he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, is the base for a 2,500-strong air-ground task force of U.S. Marines during the southern hemisphere winter.

Northern Australia provides easy access to Southeast Asia and beyond. It includes a broad logistics and industrial support base, plenty of air space and ranges for training and a friendly local population, Babbage said.

"There is substantial expansion of fuel and other capabilities being built in northern Australia to support these types of operations," he said.

The B-1Bs rendezvoused over the Timor Sea with two Australian tankers, which transferred fuel to them at an altitude of 30,000 feet, according to the statement.

AUKUS security pact to boost US presence in the Top End

The US military plans a dramatic and comprehensive ramping-up of its defence presence in the Northern Territory to counter the rising threat of China – measures which experts say will, for the first time, involve all four branches of the American armed services.

Senior US and Australian defence officials and analysts, speaking on background, confirmed to the Defence Special Report that while “final details were getting worked out”, the measures envisaged big increases in joint US air exercises, troop deployments, pre positioning of equipment, and the use of more sophisticated weapons systems across the Northern Territory’s key training ranges.

Spurred by growing perceptions of a rising Chinese threat, last month’s announcement of the AUKUS trilateral defence agreement will see the transformation of the Top End from a very convenient military training area for the ADF and its allies to a vital southern US defence anchor encompassing a vast area of the Pacific, linking Guam to the north and Hawaii to the east.

These are bigger consequences and will have a bigger, more immediate, impact to the region.

US stages drill with allies as it seeks to counter Chinese missile threat

Drills will include air combat exercises designed to improve ability to use smaller airfields in case its main bases come under attack.

The joint exercise at the Andersen Air Force Base, known as Cope North 2021, started on Wednesday and will run until February 19 and will see the base hosting F-35A joint strike fighters for the first time.
The exercise kicks off with an exercise designed to improve the three countries’ ability to carry out humanitarian operations in response to a natural disaster in the region, according to a statement from the US air force in the Pacific.
It also includes air combat drills designed to improve their flexibility and common communications ability.

one commander had said that one aim was to improve the forces’ ability to operate from small, rough airfields with limited facilities – also known as austere airfields– a move analysts said was designed to make it harder to “wipe out” US air power with missile attacks on major bases.