B1 Bomber aircraft at Eielson AFB to support allies and train in Arctic environments

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 5:17 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Residents of Eielson, Salcha or North Pole may see or most likely hear a new aircraft in the area. Three B1 Bombers from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas have been operating out of Eielson Air Force Base for the last few weeks as they work to support European Command and train with fighter jets in Alaska.

The B1 Bomber is a special aircraft, “It’s built for bombs and fuel and not much else,” said Colonel Chris Hawn, a B1 pilot with the 345th EBS. The wings also sweep back when it is flying to allow it to fly at higher speeds.

“If our wings stayed at this wing sweep the whole time, we would be limited to classic airliner type speeds right. But the ability to change that, to effectively increase our top speed limit, by sweeping the wings, allows us to go super sonic," Hawn said.

The plane holds four crew, a pilot and copilot, and defensive and offensive weapon operator.

Hawn explained that as the U.S. military focuses more on Russia and China, Eielson Air Force Base has played a key role in that mission. The planes are at Eielson to help support European Command missions. They are also training with fighter jets and learning to operate in an Arctic environment.

“The Arctic in general is growing increasingly important from a strategic standpoint, it goes back to that national defense strategy that we talked about earlier, and so the ability to come up here and train in the arctic region is crucial for us moving forward if we are going to support national defense strategy effectively," Hawn said.

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