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.
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.