January 11, 2019

US B-2, B-52 and B-1 Bombers Exercising in Australia

Continued US B-2, B-1 and B-52 bomber visits, in and over Australia, are important to Australia's security, particularly against the likes of China. 

In a low key way the very isolated  Australia’s Tindal Air Force Base at Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, occasionally hosts US B-52B-1B, B-2 (probably at night) bombers and KC-135s on scheduled operations, exercises and emergency stops. 

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF's) Darwin Air Force Base can also host (Youtube above) US bombers, (though less frequently than Tindal) due to noise and perhaps security concerns. These bombers and refuelers are more frequently based or pass through Guam, Okinawa, Diego Garcia, Hawaii, Middle East and Afghanistan bases and mainly based on the US mainland.

A B-2 stealth bomber lands at RAAF Darwin, Australia, foExercise Green Lightning. 2006-2012 (Photo Courtesy, Air Power Australia).

Another facility shared by the US and Australian air forces is a bombing range south of Tindal. 

Bombers from US Andersen Air Force Base, Guam historically used the very small, uninhabited, island of Farallon de Medinilla just north of Guam as a practice target. But political, environmental sensitivities, very small size and other limitations means that US heavy bombers no longer bomb Farallon de Medinilla.

Instead bombers from Guam can use the larger, 200,000 hectare Delamere Air Weapons Range about 120 km south of Tindal. See Wiki and Australian Defence websites on Delamere.

Under the defence relations Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) initiative, Exercise Lightning Focus has been held from November 2017 (if not earlier). Lightning Focus may be applicable to more or all RAAF bases in Australia particularly RAAF Williamtown (near Newcastle, NSW) and Australian RAAF Amberley (near Brisbane-Ipswich) Queensland.

In early 2018 US B-52s touched down at RAAF Base Darwin to train with the RAAF as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative.

All sorts of Australian RAAF aircraft participate in these exercises (AEW&C, air refuelers and fighter-attack, etc) 

Two B-1Bs from 37th Bomber Squadron, South Dakota, land at RAAF Amberley, Australia,
November 27, 2017. The B-1Bs are participating in RAAF led Exercise Lightning Focus. Lightning Focus is the largest international air forces exercise in Australia, held in 2017 and 2018. 

All these US aircraft visits are important to Australia's security.



Anonymous said...

Showing the flag, a transitory commitment, is one thing. Is US public ready to intervene in defense of any Asian nation when it is mentally not prepared?
45 years ago (to within a few days), US sits on the sideline after Dr. K. and a different POTUS went to China and created the Chinese monster that it is today. One could say that was the beginning of China's move southwards in the SCS.
Understandably so, US short term national interests were different at the time.

Pete said...


In the intangible political world there is US alliance policy confusion with contadictory statements coming from Trump Tweet Speaches, his senior office holders (eg: Defense Secretary) and Congressionals Republicans.

Through all this actual US Bomber visits to Australia and ground exercises are the main observable proof that the US still supports Australia.

There used to be articles in the media that US SSNs and SSGNs were visiting Fremantle (Rockingham) Fleet Base WEST in Western Australia https://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2015/05/us-nuclear-subs-that-temporarily-docked.html

but clearly this is no longer happening. So Australia can now expect less support from the US Navy.



Pete said...

Hi again KQN

I beg to differ. The early 1970s visits of "Dr K" Kissinger and Nixon to China:

- cemented the isolation of the then greater threat from the Soviet Union

- and recognised China was growing too powerful to remain a bogey "Red China". Also support for Nationalist China/Taiwan as the Only China was (like the Vietnam War) a lost cause.

China sees the South China Sea (and surrounding states) as being in China's Sphere of Influence just like the US continues to see the Western Hemisphere, the Caribbean, South and Central America to be America's overall strategic preserve. The Monroe Doctrine very much lives on in US thinking.

Australia must either accept Chinese domination of East Asia, including the southwest Pacific. Knowing that Trump may be re-elected and isolationist Presidents may follow him.


Australia should build its own Nuclear Weapons Capability (much like Israel) with submarine platforms being central.