RAPID CITY, S.D. — Ellsworth Air Force Base on Saturday posted video of two of its B1-B Lancer bombers taking off to participate in Friday’s retaliatory strikes against Iranian-backed militias for the drone strike that killed three American soldiers and injured dozens of others in Jordan on Sunday, January 28.
The video shows two B1-Bs making a nighttime departure from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. In its Instagram post, Ellsworth said the bombers “recently launched from Dyess Air Force Base to support US Central Command priorities, validating the U.S. Air Force’s capability to provide precision, long-range strike anytime, anywhere.”
Ellsworth’s B-1s are temporarily operating from Dyess AFB, home to the U.S. Air Force’s other operational B-1B squadron, while the investigation continues into the cause of January’s accident at Ellsworth in which a landing B-1B went off the runway and the crew was forced to eject.
But Ellsworth’s airfield opened temporarily January 25, 2024 so several B-1s could fly to Dyess, the Air Force has said, and the airfield closed immediately afterward while the crash investigation continues.
Base officials worked closely with the aircraft accident investigating team to inspect the airfield, ensured it was safe and then generated bombers for training missions that concluded with the aircraft landing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
Col. Derek Oakley, 28th BW commander, stated the mission clearly demonstrated the Airmen accomplishing the mission at the world’s largest B-1B combat wing are capable of executing its mission and remain ready.
“It also reassures our allies and partners that we are steadfast in supporting them when needed, and reminds our nation’s adversaries of the capabilities we are able to bring to any fight, anywhere around the globe,” Oakley added.
The flights are the first missions since the base’s airfield was closed Jan. 4, 2024, following a B-1B crash where all four aircrew safely ejected. The airfield is closed again until further notice as the accident investigation team continues its work.
“And while our airfield operations are currently on hold as part of the investigation, this mission proves that this weapon system is mission capable,” Oakley said.
Regarding Friday’s retaliatory strike, US CENTCOM Commander General Michael Erk Krill said, “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups continue to represent a direct threat to the stability of Iraq, the region, and the safety of Americans. We will continue to take action, do whatever is necessary to protect our people, and hold those responsible who threaten their safety.”
John Thune, U.S. Senator for South Dakota commended members of the 28th Bomb Wing’s air crews and maintainers in last week’s strike on 85 targets in the Middle East, responding to attacks on U.S. forces that killed three American soldiers.
“It underscores the importance of preserving this capability well into the future so that we can deter threats and hold adversaries accountable,” Thune said, adding, “Global reach. Any time, any place.”
The crews took off from American soil, hit the overseas targets and returned to base in a single flight.