(Images: USAF)

Last week, the U.S. Air Force simultaneously launched three planes known as “strategic power projection bombers:” a B-52 Stratofortress, B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit also known as the stealth bomber. The mighty jets are operating together for the first time in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Those three aircraft represent about a billion dollars worth of equipment, plus whatever their ordinance costs. Each jet is designated as a heavy long-range bomber, covering immense distances at subsonic speeds.

The Air Force reports that the planes took off in succession from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on August 17th. Each plane has been used in the region already, but this marked “the first time all three bombers flew a formation pass over Andersen Air Force Base, dispersed and then simultaneously conducted operations in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia.”

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And it made for a hell of a photo-op.

The three planes are briefly overlapping at Andersen as the Air Force shuffles equipment and personnel around.

A few B-1Bs and over 300 airmen were sent to Guam from South Dakota (Ellsworth AFB) to replace B-52s which are being sent back to the continental U.S. at Minot AFB. The B-52 pilot Capt. Kaitlin Tardieu said they had been flying “Pacific power projection sorties” for the past six months.

Apparently the purpose of the exercise involving the three planes here is to help the flight crews “integrate and train with allies and partners” while learning to fly in the geographic region. And that region is massive. The U.S. Pacific Command’s “area of responsibility” is 52 percent of the globe. The Air Force maintains its bomber fleet there to “assure allies and deter potential adversaries.” I’d imagine these ‘training missions’ double nicely as an advertisement of air power.

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Hat tip to Ryan!