Barksdale Airmen recreate history

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael J. Andriacco
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Several units from Barksdale Air Force Base added their mark to a significant page in history Aug. 24 when they recreated a historical flight.

The 2nd Bomb Wing, 53rd Wing, U.S. Air Force Weapons School and the 917th Wing came together for the first time to fly a maritime intercept mission.

The original mission was flown by three B-17s from the 2nd Bombardment Group, based at Langley Field, Va., on May 12, 1938. Their mission was to locate and intercept the Rex, the flagship of the Navigazione Gernerale Italiana steamship line. It was a mission that reshaped air power.

Today's mission was designed with the same purpose in mind. It showcased the versatility and strike capabilities of the Air Force over any terrain.

Three B-52s flew approximately 1,600 miles to intercept the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo, a maritime prepositioning ship belonging to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.

Today's successful training mission clearly demonstrated the rapid-response, long-range nature of airpower and how the Air Force protects the homeland - including the capability to intercept ships that are perceived to be threats to the homeland, said Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder, Eighth Air Force commander.

This mission clearly demonstrated all aspects of "global vigilance, global reach, global power" and the integration of kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities across all three of the Air Force's warfighting domains: air, space and cyberspace, he added.

One thing the B-17 crews didn't have in 1938 was the targeting system and data transmission technology on the B-52s.

If an enemy ship is well outside U.S. territory and poses a threat, the B-52 can identify the ship, transmit that data back to intelligence and have U.S. officials make a determination to either stop the ship, sink it or continue to follow it, said Col. Robert Wheeler, 2nd Bomb Wing commander.

The close working environment fostered by all the units involved was critical to the success of the mission.

"This mission couldn't have been accomplished without the interaction," said Lt. Col. Bob Nordberg, the 917th Operations Support Flight commander and mission commander, "It was a total force initiative."

(Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)