BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – Two B-52 Stratofortress bombers assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, returned May 24 from a 35-hour, 14,000-mile nonstop mission to Jordan as part of this year’s exercise Eager Lion with Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF).
Eager Lion is an annual U.S. Central Command exercise hosted by the Jordan government to test responses to conventional and unconventional threats in a joint environment. Exercise mission sets are based on a fictional adversary and range from border security, command and control, and cyber defense to battlespace management. Eager Lion 16 marked the second consecutive year of the integration of the multi-role, heavy bomber into the exercise.
“Participation in Eager Lion provides the 2nd Bomb Wing the opportunity to demonstrate the flexible capabilities of the B-52,” said Lt Col Joseph McKenna, 2nd Operations Group deputy commander. “From air intercept training with coalition fighter aircraft to coordinating with ground forces to drop live ordnance as part of a close air support demo, the exercise strengthens interoperability with allies and partners around the globe.”
During the exercise, B-52 crews conducted air intercept training with Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft and executed a live conventional weapons demonstration directed jointly by JAF and U.S. ground controllers.
“Executing these global bomber training missions supports successful integration into geographic combatant command and multinational operations, such as the current B-52 deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the U.S. Strategic Command commander. “Our participation in two Eager Lion exercises in as many years allows us to continue to build relationships with our allies and partners in the region and beyond, better enabling us to confront today’s global challenges.”
Combined with the long-range nature of the flight, which involved four aerial refueling operations, this mission showcases the flexible capabilities of the bomber force and its ability to integrate with other nations around the world.
STRATCOM’s bomber force regularly conducts combined training and theater security cooperation engagements with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to command, control and conduct global bomber missions anywhere. B-52 participation in exercise Eager Lion follows the deployment of B-52s to Morón Air Base, Spain, in February and March, where they participated in Norwegian exercise Cold Response and French exercise Serpentex, as well as the deployment of B-2 Spirits to the Indo-Asia-Pacific in March. Additionally, in April, a B-52 flew a sortie to France to integrate with the French air force, and a B-52 also flew to South America to train with the Colombian air force.