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B-52s land at civilian airfield during exercise Bayou Vigilance

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Seth Watson
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

A pair of B-52H Stratofortresses from the 20th Bomb Squadron tested their capabilities by landing at a civilian airfield as part of exercise Bayou Vigilance on April 12, 2024.

Bayou Vigilance exercises aim to increase the readiness and lethality of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. This is accomplished by simulating combat operations and demonstrating the ability to respond to strategic attacks.

As part of the exercise, the wing tested its ability to operate in austere environments by landing and taking off at a civilian airfield.

“When it comes to nuclear war, all bets are off and we need to be prepared to adapt to the current situation,” said Lt. Col. Jared Patterson, 20th BS commander. “By demonstrating our ability to land at a civilian airfield, we’re demonstrating our ability to conduct operations.”

The 20th BS landed the jets at Chennault International Airport, a local airfield in Lake Charles, La., not far from Barksdale AFB.

“We are demonstrating a capability, and that capability is to land a B-52 anywhere across the globe,” said Patterson. “So yes, we’re doing it close to home this time around, but this proved we can do it anywhere around the globe.”

Landing the B-52s at Chennault required close coordination between the 2nd BW and airport personnel. It showed that the 2nd BW is able to partner with local authorities and the individuals who oversee airfield operations in order to execute the mission.

“The 2nd BW and Chennault International Airport partnership is significant because it provides the wing an alternate location for training and operations, while at the same time demonstrating the viability and importance of the Department of Defense – civilian relationship,” said Kevin Melton, Chennault International Airport executive director. “It shows we are a team founded on similar core values, which at the end of the day ensures our nation is protected by a formidable fighting force second to none.”