Whiteman Airmen 'surge' in support of AFGSC mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Barebo
  • 509th Bomb WIng Public Affairs
The men and women of the 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing recently maintained a success rate above 95 percent through three days of surge operations as part of continuing operations to provide assurance and deterrence through global strike operations.

A surge is a designated period of time where a unit will continually fly aircraft until a predetermined set of objectives are met.

"The surge allows for competent, trained pilots to be able to execute both conventional and nuclear missions at a high level," said Lt. Col. Spalding,
509th Operations Group deputy commander. "Several agencies were involved with the surge providing planning, preparation, support, maintenance and
pilots to make the surge a success.

"We worked with Global Strike Command to have some free flying time after a pretty intense inspection regime," Colonel Spalding said. "We use these
surges to accomplish training in between required inspections and exercises."

During the surge, B-2 engines were running on average 30 hours continuously per engine.

"This takes team work," said Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, 509th Bomb Wing commander. "This surge was a collaboration of 509th and 131st Airman working
together toward a common goal. We have the finest Airmen in the Air Force here flying and maintaining the finest bomber in the Air Force."

One of the predetermined objectives was the number of sorties, or successful take-offs and landings, to be flown. Maintainers encountered only minor
maintenance issues allowing 35 of 38 scheduled sorties during the surge with four aircraft in the air at one time.

"The crews and the aircraft performed exceptionally well," Colonel Spalding said. "This airframe is aging and parts are sometimes hard to come by. It's because of the outstanding work of the maintainers that our jets are ready to fly."

Some of the successes include the use of hot pit refueling. After the B-2 has landed, aircrews swapped out as maintenance crews performed thru-flight checks and refueled the aircraft with the engines running. Once all checks were complete and the aircraft was refueled it was sent out for another sortie.

A hot pit operation is a process the B-2 and aircrews have always been capable of doing, but do not accomplish regularly, said Colonel Spalding.

The last time B-2 crews surged was in 2006.

"The idea for the surge came from a challenge to the young officers and Airmen to come up with innovative ways to maximize sortie production for the free time that Global Strike gave us," said Colonel Spalding. "It was their ideas that came up with the surge. It's really testament to empowering the people to come up with creative ways to tackle tough situations."

A continuing testament to Whiteman's successful total force integration efforts was evident during this latest surge.

"Total Force Integration goes without saying with the B-2'" Colonel Spalding said. "We have Airmen from the 131st Bomb Wing integrated with 509th Airmen working seamlessly toward mission success. In addition, the surge ended at the beginning of the 131st Unit Training Assembly weekend so we were able to fly the jets heavily during the week and then pass them off to the Guard to have them prepared for this week's flying."

Overall, the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings flew more than 70 sorties in the first two weeks of October and plan to continue flying hard through Oct. 31.