Two US Air Force B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers from the 459th Bomb Group,Dyess Air Force Base,Texas,and a B-52H Stratofortress bomber were sent to RAF Fairford,England recently to participate in Exercise Ample Strike 16 in the Czech Republic.The strategic,nuclear-capable aircraft are part of US Global Strike Command.They were deployed in support of the NATO drills for JTACs,or Joint Terminal attack Controllers,that involved 1500 military personnel from 16 NATO Allies and partners.The troops were trained in realistic,complex and demanding scenarios.Besides JTACs,who call in and guide close air support for ground forces,Ample Strike also trains aircrews and commanders of ground forces.*
The training was conducted for both day and nighttime operations,improving interoperability.For example,a Czech ground commander communicated with a Finnish JTAC;a convoy waited for close air support during an improvised attack;simulated mortar attacks were carried out;and US Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from 12th Air Combat Brigade in Katterbach,Bayern,Germany visited a forward fueling station.*
The presence of the heavy US bombers underlined the seriousness of the warfighting drills,which thereby had at their call some of the world's most powerful,flexible and long-ranging weapon systems from US Global Strike Command.They were an unmistakable message of assurance and deterrence from NATO to the most advanced,belligerent and determined potential adversaries,such as Russia,China,Iran and North Korea.