Story by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — Ten B-52H Stratofortress bombers took part in a minimum interval takeoff exercise, or MITO, showcasing ground and aircrew’s abilities, here Aug. 14.
During a MITO, each aircraft is equipped with eight starter cartridges filled with gunpowder, that allows the engines to start up faster than a normal takeoff.
“We are practicing for a real world event; if something were to happen, this is how Barksdale would respond,” said Senior Airman Mitchell Dexter 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft powerplant general. “We use starter carts so we are able to get the engines started faster than using traditional methods, which allows us to get the planes started and taxing within minutes from the alert call.”
Common place during the Cold war, a MITO challenges crews to get multiple aircraft off the ground within 15 minutes of initial alert notices.
“The MITO proves the teamwork between both the aircrews and ground crews is solid,” said Col. David Foote, 2nd Maintenance Group commander. “This allows Barksdale to provide nuclear deterrence giving our allies the assurance that we have the capability needed to deter our adversaries.”
While the small launch window is challenging in itself, turbulence created from the leading aircraft can create rough air for the following planes, testing the aircrew’s skills.
“Our maintainers and operators did a magnificent job preparing and executing this exercise,” said Col. Kristin Goodwin, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. “This launch is a testament to our capability and what our crews are able to accomplish.”
Although the days of the Cold War are over, a MITO showcases the operational capability Barksdale continues to maintain, proving aircrew and maintenance personnel are ready to perform and execute at a moment’s notice.