Bone Check

B-1B bombers, which fly with two pilots and two weapons systems officers enabling longer loiter time, are keeping an eye on coalition ground troops in Southwest Asia, using the B-one’s new Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods to analyze potential targets in real-time. The 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., since mid-summer, is the first Bone unit to employ the Sniper pod and used it in combat for the first time on Aug. 4. Lt. Col. Kevin Kennedy, 34th EBS commander, said the addition of television and infrared capability enables the bomber crews to view a target and share the imagery with a joint terminal attack controller on the ground at the same time. The Bones typically fly 12-hour missions, during which, Kennedy said, the crews have “to be ready to execute at almost any minute.” The 34th EBS B-1 force, said Kennedy, currently delivers “a great deal of the firepower” in Afghanistan, but it also is on tap to provide close air support, non-traditional intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capability, and armed over watch for operations in Iraq and Horn of Africa, if needed. It helps that the B-1 has “the ability to fly for a long period of time [courtesy of their fuel capacity and dual crews] and the speed to move through the country fairly quickly,” said Kennedy. (SWA report by MSgt. Jeff Loftin)