The "Spirit of California," a B-2 bomber, takes off during a base exercise, April 9, 2014, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The B-2’s low-observable, or "stealth," characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Crane/Released)
Three B-2 Spirits prepare to taxi, April 8, 2014, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The B-2’s low-observable, or "stealth," characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Crane/Released)
B-2 Spirit of Arizona taxis, April 8, 2014, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The B-2 is powered by four General Electric F118-GE-100 engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Crane/Released)
The "Spirit of California," a B-2 bomber, takes off during a base exercise, April 9, 2014, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Whiteman AFB, is the only operational base for the B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Crane/Released)
by Senior Airman Bryan Crane
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
5/9/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 509th Bomb Wing set a new record in the month of April for most sorties and hours flown in a single month with 20 operational B-2 Spirits.
In cooperation with the 131st Bomb Wing, the B-2 flew 142 sorties for a record total 839.3 hours.
The 509th Operations Group worked hand in hand with the 509th Maintenance Group and the 131st Bomb Wing, to set an effective flying plan with a large surge at the beginning of the month in order to enhance the overall B-2 flying mission.
"This month helped us show our ability to get into a demanding environment and continue to produce high quality aircraft," said Col. Chase McCown, 509th Maintenance Group commander.
In the Aircraft Maintenance field they look at metrics and performance indicators that give them a quantifiable way to determine how well they are doing, McCown said .
With the record amount of hours flown in April, the maintenance crews stayed well above normal in eight separate metrics, including a B-2 mission capable rate of nearly 70 percent.
"With the low observable capabilities of the B-2 and the amount of maintenance that system requires, it can be difficult to keep our metrics at such a high rate," McCown said. "Our metrics were outstanding in April, being 15 percent above our average mission capable rate."
While conducting the B-2 sorties the Bomb Wing also flew a total of 320 sorties in the T-38 Talon.
"We planned very effectively for the month," said Col. Edward Martignetti, 509th Operations Group commander. "We executed at a very high level. This matters because we proved we have proficient operators and maintainers that can surge operations and put jets in the air."
The operations group had to plan these sorties with flying missions that would also complete specific training requirements for the Bomb Wing.
"We had mission qualification sorties, upgrade training sorties and check rides that are annual evaluations," Martignetti said. "We also conducted long duration sorties that can last up to 24 hours, worked with special operations on dynamic targeting, integrated with our F-22 Raptor counter parts about low observable survivability techniques and attended our first air show after the sequester at Barksdale Air Force Base, La."
McCown was quick to give credit to his airmen working on the flightline, in the back shops and in the weapons storage area.
"Our field grade officers and captains built a schedule that was aggressive and executable," McCown said. "Our Chiefs and Senior NCOs were engaged and led throughout, and our younger NCOs and airmen executed very, very well. Everybody doing their piece is the only way you fly 800 plus hours in one month."
The airmen who made this happen were also proud of their contribution.
"It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get these machines in the air, but I love every second of it. I'm proud to be part of such an accomplishment," said Senior Airman Brian Jones, 509th AMXS assistant dedicated crew chief for the "Spirit of New York."
Martignetti was impressed with all the airmen working this month including the under-the-radar Mission Support Group.
"Not only did the operations and maintenance groups increase their workload," Martignetti said. "We also had a more robust movement of parts and supplies through the system to get the equipment we needed out to the maintainers. One example of OG/MXG/MSG working together is the massive quantities of JP8 jet fuel required to sustain operations of this magnitude--each group plays a critical role in refueling the B-2."
Having a month like April is important to prove operation effectiveness, but it also helps keep adversaries aware.
"We know the adversaries are watching us," McCown said. "And any bad guy in the world watching us over the last 30 days saw a whole lot of airplanes doing a whole lot of flying, that's a strong message in itself."