B-52s arrive in Darwin for JTAC exercises with the RAAF

A B-52 touches down at Darwin on Friday. (Defence)

United States Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers have arrived in Darwin for exercises with the RAAF and Army.

Up to three B-52s will be based at Darwin over the coming days – “early April” according to a Department of Defence statement – for exercises with RAAF F/A-18A Hornets, 4 Squadron PC-9A(F)s and Army and Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACS) at ranges near RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW.

The aircraft are currently based at Andersen Air Force base in Guam, as part of the US Pacific Air Force’s permanent rotation of B-52, B-1B and B-2 bombers there, under the Continuous Bomber Presence program. They form part of the six B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, that arrived on Guam in mid-January.

The Darwin deployment is part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation agreement with the US which has also seen B-1B Lancer bombers and F-22 Raptor fighters visit Australia.

Drag chute deployed, a B-52 on its landing roll at Darwin. (Defence)

RAAF Base Darwin also hosted USAF B-52s in 2012, 2014 and 2016 for previous training exercises.

In 2006 Australia became the first US ally to receive Joint Terminal Attack Controller accreditation from the US Joint Forces Command. ADF JTAC trainer is providing by Williamtown-based 4 Squadron, which operates the specially-modified PC-9A(F) variant of the RAAF’s PC-9/A turboprop trainer.

Two B-52s at Darwin. (Defence)


  1. says

    Great to see the legend up north. It would of been nice to get 2 of everything that is currently on rotation in Guam. Have a great stay here guys and look forward to a lot more of these EAC rotations!

  2. Daryl says

    The re-engine plans are well advanced,at least in the ”talk” department.What a machine.

  3. Josh James says

    Amazing to think that by the time the last 52 is parked in the boneyard that 4 generations of pilots would have flown it in war and peace. Maybe the last plane to ever have that honour.

    In town also to visit their older BUFF brother at Darwin Aviation Museum?

  4. David says

    Saw them land on friday the sound these planes make is awesome.
    My work is right under the flight path so I will see a bit of it this next week.

  5. ESLowe says

    I hope the US Air Force get the money to replace old engine technology on the B52s soon. I’t means a 30% increase in range and 150% increase in loiter time…..

  6. Nicolle says

    Have the B52 flown out now. Missed them so far and would love to see one in the air

  7. Craigy says

    Interestingly I heard recently of where the grandson of a B52 pilot has started flying the aircraft. Such longevity is a tribute to the quality of the engineering all those years ago.

  8. AlanH says

    Yes, incredible aircraft. But where are the B-1Bs and B-2s? Surely they can do everything a B-52 can do and more. Why aren’t there more of them coming to Australia for exercises? I realise they have done so in the past. The B-52 is such an anachronism. Why would the Yanks be even thinking of a re-engining program for them? They can’t put the larger modern bypass engines on them because of the wing droop, so they are stuck with 8 smaller engines no matter what. Time to pension them off. Four generations of pilots? Give me a break! Would we still be flying B-17s or B-29s in the 1990s? Time they were gone.

  9. Mick C says

    They are only used once all Air defences are nuetrilised then their massive range and payload comes into its own.

    They sit at 40 odd thousand feet circling for hours waiting for a strike call; carrying smart Munitions

    No one expects them to penetrate modern AD.