B-1B Fires JASSM Missile During Long-Range Training Sortie From U.K.

Details are a bit thin on what appears to have been an unprecedented training mission flown by B-1B Bones that are currently forward deployed to RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom as part of the Bomber Task Force rotation. The Bones in question flew all the way to the Persian Gulf, and fired some very high-end weapons along the way — including AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs). They also came away with some great video to show for it:

The clip of the stealthy JASSM being chased over the desert before it dives down onto a target range is accompanied by the following caption:

“A live AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile deploys in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility during a Bomber Task Force mission, June 8, 2023.”

The video of the JASSM in action was apparently shot over central Jordan.

The USAF states that a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb was also employed on the sortie, but it’s not clear where.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer approaches a U.S. Air Force KC-10A Extender for fuel during a Bomber Task Force mission above the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, June 8, 2023. The BTF mission was designed to build agility and interoperability between the U.S. and coalition partners while demonstrating the rapid deployment of combat power to deter regional aggression while promoting regional stability in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Frank Rohrig)

Video was also posted showing the B-1Bs being loaded with live JASSMs in England prior to departing:

The Air Force states:

“Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) aircraft joined 2 B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, along with five partner nations and other coalition forces. This particular BTF mission was historic in that it was the first time AFCENT flew multiple weapons types and practiced employment against multiple simulated targets during single bomber task force mission.”

This was a complex training mission that included coordination with multiple foreign air arms, with the jets navigating through many different areas on their long-range sortie. These missions are just as much about solidifying allegiances and signaling to potential foes as they are about training.

U.S. Air Force B1-B Lancers are escorted by coalition fighters over Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, during a Bomber Task Force June 8, 2023. Bomber Task Force rotations support U.S. National Defense Strategy objectives through strategic predictability and operational unpredictability, and the steady rotation of strategic bombers into the theater enables interoperability and enhances operational readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Boyer)

The B-1Bs from Dyess AFB arrived in the U.K. in the last week of May and have been very active since. Their presence in the region as the war in Ukraine rages is impossible to ignore regardless of how routine these rotations have become.

The use of JASSM is particularly interesting as it remains the B-1B’s most potent land-attack weapon. The B-1 also was the first aircraft to fire the JASSM in anger. That mission, which The War Zone was first to report on, was part of a large package of cruise missile strikes against Syrian targets in response to a gas attack on civilians back in 2018.

It will be interesting to see where the forward-deployed Bones end up next.

Contact the author: tyler@thedrive.com