Air Force News

Minot B-52s display maritime role

Released: 21 Sep 1999

by Capt. Ange Jaskiewicz
5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFPN) -- Possibly one of the most forgotten missions of the B-52 is that of maritime operations; however, the 5th Bomb Wing's participation in a NATO exercise recently reminded the world of that capability.

Two B-52s from the 23rd Bomb Squadron deployed to the Bay De Quiberon, France, recently to take part in NATO's Northern Lights '99 exercise.

The exercise required each B-52 to drop eight MK-62 quick-strike training mines. Once the 500-pound inert mines were laid, various sea-based forces entered the area, located the mines and recovered them.

"This mission showed our capability to contain an enemy, not only through the air, but also on the seas," said Col. Greg Power, 5th Bomb Wing commander. "By laying mines, we keep an enemy isolated on their coasts or away from their ports, if they are already at sea."

The B-52 has filled the mine warfare mission requirement since 1964. However, a 1982 memorandum of agreement on joint Navy and Air Force efforts enhanced the Air Force contribution to maritime operations. Anti-surface ship warfare, surveillance and targeting, and aerial mine laying are missions the Air Force now provides to enhance the nation's sea defense.

Northern Lights is a multinational exercise testing the counter-sea capabilities of the Air Force and the ordnance recovery capabilities of the Navy. More than 11 countries participated in this year's exercise.

"The exercise was a success and afforded us the opportunity to show, once again, that the 5th Bomb Wing is ready to deploy and support any theater commander's mission requirements," said Lt. Col Tom Gilbert, 23rd BS commander. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)


* B-52 Stratofortress
* Air Combat Command
* Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
* U.S. Navy