A B-2 bomber stands at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as a satellite link for the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command's first mobile operations center is installed. Photo by TSgt. Heather Salazar/U.S. Air Force
Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The U. S. Air Force Global Strike Command has set up its first overseas mobile operations center for B-2 stealth bomber missions, the branch announced Monday.
The center was established by the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., for the first time on Aug. 20 during a deployment to Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, which is on a British archipelago in the Indian Ocean where a squadron of B-2 bombers was deployed earlier this month.
The mission planning and monitoring facility enables the 393rd EBS to plot actions on any airfield in the world available to the B-2, which officials say will offer greater flexibility for mission deployment.
"This is the future of bomber mission planning," Lt. Col. Christopher Conant, Bomber Task Force commander, said in a statement. "Our objective out here is to create an ability to move a B-2 unit to any location in the world and generate combat sorties, as the Air Force Global Strike 2020 Strategic Plan outlines."
The U.S. Air Force regards the mobile facility at Diego Garcia as a test base. Once implemented across Air Force Global Strike Command, mobile operations centers can allow commanders around the world to employ bomber forces with more flexibility than in previous operations.
"What we are doing out here is demonstrating expeditionary operations," said Maj. Justin Spencer, 393rd EBS weapons officer. "This initiative will allow us to operate more dynamically than ever before."
Air Force communication technicians from the 131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guard, the 374th Communications Squadron of Yokota Air Base, Japan, and Detachment 1 of the 36th Mission Support Group of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, joined the 509th Bomb Wing in establishing the mobile operations center.
The facility at Diego Garcia has the advantage of isolation, officials say. Near the equator in the Indian Ocean, it is too far for most enemy aerial attacks from Europe or the Middle East, yet close enough for B-2 missions to those areas, as well as to the Indo-Pacific theater of operations.
Three B-2 bombers arrived at the facility earlier in August, roughly three years after the last time they'd be deployed there. The deployment was also the stealth bombers' first deployment to Indo-Pacific Command since January 2019, when they were sent to Hawaii.