Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs
4/6/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Air
Force Global Strike Command recently completed a pair of simultaneous
long-range bomber missions in two geographic combatant commands,
enabling units to become familiar with operating in different regions of
April 1-2, two B-52H Stratofortresses from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air
Force Base, N.D., and a pair from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force
Base, La., completed nonstop roundtrip sorties from their home stations
on to the Arctic and North Sea regions, respectively.
Dubbed Polar Growl, the U.S. Strategic Command training mission was
flown in support of both U.S. European Command and U.S. Northern Command
and was specifically designed to demonstrate the United States'
commitment to Allies and enhancement of regional security.
"These flights, demonstrating the credible and flexible ability of our
strategic bomber force in internationally-recognized flight information
regions, are the culmination of months of planning and coordination,"
said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander. "They are
one of many ways we demonstrate interoperability, compliance with
national and international protocols and due regard for the safety of
all aircraft sharing the air space."
Polar Growl allowed the bomber aircrews to hone their navigation skills
and enhanced their ability to work with Allied partners. The
simultaneous flights also tested the bomber force's command and control
apparatus' ability to support two synchronized flight paths.
Additionally, bomber crews flying the North Sea route participated in
dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with fighter aircraft flown by the
Royal Canadian Air Force, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and the
Royal Netherlands Air Force.
"The long-range nature of the mission, coupled with the opportunity to
interact, in real-time, with Allied aircraft was an invaluable
experience that simply can't be replicated out of the cockpit," said
Maj. Nathan Barnhart, a 343rd Bomb Squadron instructor radar navigator
at Barksdale. "Training like this ensures we are ready to respond to any
and all mission directives across the globe."
Bomber crews on the Arctic leg of the mission transited around the North
Pole, providing the crews invaluable training in polar navigation. They
also conducted dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with Royal Canadian
Air Force fighters.
"There are a rare number of opportunities to practice Polar Navigation.
The training that the crews received from the Polar Growl mission was
invaluable," said the 5th Operations Support Squadron's nuclear
operations center chief at Minot. "We continue to update the knowledge
base of the crew force through squadron and operation discussions of
these events to share experiences and techniques to keep the sword sharp
in the many mission sets the B-52 Stratofortress is responsible for."
From active-duty and reserve aircrews, maintainers, and support
personnel generating and controlling the bomber missions, to active-duty
and Air National Guard refueling, each of the two legs of Polar Growl
provided unique training opportunities for the Total Force.
"This is a great Total Force Enterprise mission bringing unparalleled
experience to reserve aircrew operating in conjunction with active duty
aircrew while demonstrating interoperability and readiness to our Allies
around the world," said Lt. Col. Robert Burgess, 343rd Bomb Squadron
commander. "TFE is a way to bring the smallest, oldest and busiest Air
Force together to maintain the capabilities necessary for demands of
today's operational tempos."
The United States regularly conducts combined training and theater
security cooperation engagements with Allies and partners. The combined
training provided in Polar Growl follows the participation of B-52s in
NATO Exercise Noble Justification in October and the deployment of B-52s
and B-2s to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, in June, both of which
provided occasions to train alongside U.S. Allies and partners.
"Today's dynamic global security environment is an interdependent world
where international partnerships are foundational," Haney said.
"Exercises and operations such as these bomber flights enable and
enhance relationships with our Allies and partners, and allow others to
understand what capabilities U.S. Strategic Command brings to the
The B-52 is capable of delivering large payload of precision nuclear or
conventional ordnance over long ranges, while also providing decision
makers the ability to rapidly project military power and generate
"Polar Growl was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the awesome
capability of the B-52," said a 69th Bomb Squadron pilot from Minot who
participated in the mission. "The maintainers, support personnel and
aircrew did an excellent job showcasing the BUFF's ability to project
combat power anywhere in the world."
Polar Growl was not directed at any country. To enhance regional safety
and to prevent any chance of misunderstanding, U.S. forces conduct these
flights in accordance with the procedures outlined in the International
Civil Aviation Organization international standards and recommended
(U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs, Senior Airman Benjamin
Raughton, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs; and Senior Airman Malia Jenkins,
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs, contributed to this report.)