DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
More than 250 Team Dyess members returned to Dyess Air Force Base, Aug. 6 after a six-month deployment to Guam in support of the continuous bomber presence in the Pacific area of responsibility.
The sustainment Block-16 was the largest fleet upgrade in B-1B Lancer history, the upgrade includes a series of improvements to the B-1s avionics, data-link equipment and other systems, all of which improve aircrew situational awareness, interoperability with other aircraft, and overall mission efficiency. This was also the first B-1B total force integration deployment which included the 345th Bomb Squadron aircrew, 345th Bomb Squadron operations support and 489th Bomb Squadron maintainers.
“This was the first time the Block-16 B-1s were tested outside of the U.S.,” said Lt. Col. Erick Lord, 9th Bomb Squadron commander. “The Block-16 exceeded all expectations and made our unit better as a whole. The total force integration went exactly as we wanted it to go. The Airmen in our squadron are fairly young, so we have some holes due to lack of experience, but with the 345th and the 489th, we were able to fill those holes and become a total force unit.”
During their deployment the B-1 aircrews flew more than 260 sorties, over 1,100 flight hours and provided long-range precision strike capability. The 9th BS conducted missions that went from Guam to the East and South China Seas, Korean Peninsula and Australia. One of the missions was a bilateral mission with Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s at night, which was the first time U.S. Pacific Command directed B-1s to conduct combined training with fighters at night.
“We deployed six B-1s and more than 300 Airmen from the 9th BS, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 7th Maintenance Group,” Hamilton said. “The reason we are able to deploy and complete the mission is because of every Team Dyess member. We would not be able to launch or recover our jets without the effort of the bomb wing.”
Much of the success of the B-1s deployment can be credited to maintenance Airmen, who worked around the clock to ensure the B-1 completed 100 percent of all U.S. Pacific Command’s directed missions.
“The Airmen did a fantastic job, not only representing the 9th AMU but also the 7th Bomb Wing,” said 2nd Lt. Chelsea Hazen, 7th AMU assistant officer in charge. “I couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished and we are happy they are home.”
After a long six-month deployment, conducting joint-training, assuring allies, deterring aggressors and defending the United States, the Airmen are finally able to come home to their loved ones.
“Deployments aren't the easiest situations, especially early in marriage,” said Senior Airman Cecilia Brown, 7th Component Maintenance Squadron supply liaison. “However, after it is all said and done, the moment you are reunited with your loved one is that much sweeter. I am elated to have my best friend back!”