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News | June 1, 2020

B-1s train to LRASM capabilities in Europe during Bomber Task Force mission

By Capt. Korey Fratini U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

Two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, conducted a long-range strategic Bomber Task Force mission to the Black Sea region, 29 May, 2020.

During the mission, the two B-1s conducted training on the Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM). Designed to target adversary ships, the LRASM gives the B-1 the ability to have advanced stand-off and counter-ship capabilities.

The LRASM is a next generation weapon designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of surface warships in electronic warfare environments.

“LRASM plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. naval access to operate in both open-ocean and littoral environments due to its enhanced ability to discriminate between targets from long range,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Albrecht, 603rd Air Operations Center, Bomber Task Force planner. “With the increase of maritime threats and their improvement of anti-access/area denial environmental weapons, this stealthy anti-ship cruise missile provides reduced risk to strike assets by penetrating and defeating sophisticated enemy air-defense systems.”

Albrecht also highlighted the fact that through training scenarios during Bomber Task Force Missions, B-1 aircrews are able to train to new emerging threats. Training for those threats is adequately preparing them to be ready to answer National Defense Strategy objectives.

“The rise of near-peer competitors and increased tensions between NATO and our adversaries has brought anti-ship capability back to the forefront of the anti-surface warfare mission for bomber crews,” said Albrecht.

In addition to enhancing the training of bomber crews, the ability for the U.S. Air Force to train to this weapon system also increases our deterrent capability.

According to Albrecht, this training adds deterrent value not only to the U.S. but to our allies and partners. He says that in the future adversaries will not only have to worry about missile threats from surface ships, but land-based bombers as well. These capabilities should weigh heavily on any potential adversaries mind and they should account for them in their decision calculus. Bombers equipped with LRASM should give adversaries pause and deter aggressive actions by would-be adversaries who seek to do harm to the U.S. and its allies and partners.

In 2018, Air Force Global Strike Command authorized Ellsworth as the early operational capacity basing location for the AGM-158C LRASM. This authorization made Ellsworth and the B-1 bombers the first base and airframe to train and qualify on the LRASM.