SOUTHWEST ASIA, –
Early in the morning of Jan. 5, the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and the 96th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit launched their 201st sortie, breaking the record for the highest B-52 Stratofortress “sortie streak” during a flight supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
The first B-52H was introduced to the Strategic Air Command fleet in May of 1961. With over 55 years under their wings, these aircraft must be maintained and looked after diligently. An indicator of how well these aircraft are maintained is a sortie streak, or the number of consecutive sorties that a unit flies without having a mission cancelation due to maintenance.
“There are many maintenance performance indicators, but sortie streak is the culmination of our effort,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Larsen, superintendent of the 96th EAMU. “Ultimately we are charged with providing safe aircraft for the production of combat sorties. Producing sorties is where the rubber meets the road. All the other indicators mean nothing if you're not putting good aircraft in the air.”
The previous streak, 200 sorties, was established by the 5th Bomb Wing from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, while deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in 2007, and was completed within six months. The 96th EBS and 96th EAMU accomplished their 201 sorties in just under three months.
“It's a significant milestone of what the ops and maintenance team can accomplish together with the common goal of supporting our allies and defending our homeland,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Cain, commander of the 96th EBS. “To imagine we've reached this number with such a small fleet that's over 50 years old is a testament of the hard work and dedication of each maintainer and crewmember.”
With this achievement in hand, the 96th EBS and 96th EAMU continued to work diligently to provide the best mission support possible, ending their sortie streak at 227 after the first maintenance cancellation in mid-January.
“Moving forward, we will confidently see how far we can go executing the mission safely and effectively,” said Cain. “There are those who may think nothing special has been accomplished with this milestone, but I would argue that the message of what a solid team of Airmen can do with this airframe in this theatre today should be very frightening to our adversaries.”