The US Air Force B-2 bombers have finally left Base Amberley after a month of training with RAAF F-35s.
Australian Aviation’s Craig Murray has been on the ground taking photos since their arrival, and has shot the departure of the final four aircraft.
It comes as the US marked the occasion by releasing incredible new images showing aircraft from the two countries flying together in formation (see above).
The UFO-like Spirit can carry nuclear weapons and is thought to be the most expensive aircraft ever made, valued at around $2 billion each.
In total, five B-2s visited Australia, including:
- 82-1068 ‘Spirit of New York’;
- 82-1070 ‘Spirit of Ohio’;
- 82-1067 ‘Spirit of Arizona;
- 90-0040 ‘Spirit of Alaska; and
- 92-0700 ‘Spirit of Florida’.
Australian Aviation can reveal ‘Ohio’ and ‘New York’ left RAAF Amberley for Whiteman AFB in Missouri on 10 August, with ‘Florida’ and ‘Arizona’ leaving the following day. Another B-2, ‘Spirit of Alaska’, departed earlier on 24 July.
Their visit came amid increasing tension between the US and China as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. China retaliated by testing ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry later claimed to have detected 39 Chinese air force planes and 13 navy ships around the Taiwan Strait.
The visit of the batwing B-2s to Base Amberley likely amounts to the biggest ever deployment of the US’s most important military jet to Australia, with the country’s active fleet only numbering 20.
In total, six B-2s have visited Base Amberley this year, with one aircraft touching down in March before the current deployment began in July.
The fleet is visiting as part of an initiative to improve interoperability between the US Air Force and the RAAF’s F-35s. They have been joined by “several” KC-135 Stratotanker refuelling aircraft.
“This deployment of the B-2 to Australia demonstrates and enhances the readiness and lethality of our long-range penetrating strike force,” Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, commander of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, said earlier.
“We look forward to training and enhancing our interoperability with our RAAF teammates, as well as partners and allies across the Indo-Pacific as we meet PACAF objectives.”
The B-2, better known as the stealth bomber, is a multi-role aircraft capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. It has a crew of two pilots: one in the left seat and a mission commander in the right.
? ✈️ ?#BTF Bilateral training missions alongside @AusAirForce & @DefenceAust Allies enhance joint and multilateral readiness, allowing @INDOPACOM to respond to any potential crisis in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific ?? ??@usairforce @DeptofDefense pic.twitter.com/9c5kJDBxsB
— PACAF (@PACAF) August 15, 2022
It was first publicly displayed in 1988, when it was rolled out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42 in California, before its maiden flight the next year.
Australian Aviation’s next print issue, set to be released imminently, features more exclusive photos of the visit taken by Murray.