AFGSC Challenge: Personal experiences from bomber ops team

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
After taking home the second place trophy from last year's Bomber Operations portion of the Global Strike Challenge, pilots from Team Whiteman hope to bring home the first place trophy this year.

Team Whiteman competed in the GSC in June, and will find out the results during the GSC Symposium this November.

Members of the ten-member aircrew that flew in the challenge feel they performed well during their part of the Global Strike Challenge.

"We were the first crew to fly in the competition," said Capt. Paul Rowney, team member from the 13th Bomb Squadron. "Our plan was solid, and we executed well."

Rowney added that the team members are excited to see how close their bombs hit to their targets, according to Rowney.

"When you drop weapons in a B-2, you have no way to watch where the bombs hit so there is definitely some suspense leading up to the scoring," Rowney said. "It's just like taking a test and waiting to get your grade."

Rowney said Team Whiteman always strives to put its best face forward.

"We want to be seen as professionals, and conduct ourselves accordingly," Rowney said.

With one of the most accurate bombing platforms in the Air Force, the B-2, Team Whiteman's strategy was to do the hard work during the mission planning phase so the actual bomb dropping would be easy.

Even though the B-2 is one of the most accurate bombing platforms in the world, most of the B-2s strategic advantages, such as stealth and long-range flexibility, were negated by the scenario, according to Rowney.

"We have less aircrew on board - we have two while the B-1s have four, and the B-52s have 5," Rowney said. "The premise of the scenario we were given was built on close air support, a mission outside the B-2's primary focus. That being said, the B-2 was designed to drop unguided weapons and does it very well."

Overall, it was a fair competition with enough difficulties designed into the scenario to provide a challenge for everyone.

The best bomb and time management skills will most likely be named best of the best, according to Rowney.

"I think Whiteman has a superb chance of winning," Rowney said.

Not only was the competition an opportunity for Team Whiteman to show off their bombing skills, but it was also a good training opportunity that helped aircrew members think outside the box.

"This competition showcases how good each bomber is at its mission and how good we are at thinking on our feet in these combat scenarios," said Capt. Jon Roe, team member from the 393rd Bomb Squadron.

The competition challenged B-2 crewmembers to work with air traffic control and ground forces, and modify bomb runs while managing time and flying in a specific altitude.

"We were required to prepare a strike plan on a number or targets and then change the plan in the air after checking in with ground forces," Rowney said. "Flexibility and dynamic targeting are becoming more prolific in today's areas of operation. It's not how B-2s generally do business, but using our systems to accomplish the requirements was definitely good training."

Rowney says he looks forward to seeing how the B-2 crews stacked up against the rest of the bomber force.

"There are always new curve balls that will come up unexpectedly," said Rowney. "We'll never reach the point where we've 'seen it all.' The best thing we can do is prepare to be flexible as we understand our aircraft and rules of engagement. Flexibility is the key to airpower."

(Editor's note: This is part two of a three-part series highlighting the 509th Bomb Wing Bomber Operations Team and their participation in the third-annual Global Strike Challenge)