B-1 lands in Poland for first time

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer aircraft departs after a hot-pit refuel at Powidz Air Base, Poland, March 12, 2021. Hot-pit refueling allows for rapid refueling while aircraft engines are still running and the aircrew inside, ensuring aircraft return to the air as quickly as possible. This operation allowed the Bomber Task Force to practice elements of Agile Combat Employment while continuously delivering airpower alongside allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John R. Wright)

A U.S. B-1B Lancer from the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, flew a Bomber Task Force mission to Powidz, Poland, March 12.

The flight included the first ever hot-pit refuel of the bomber in Europe. “Hot pitting,” or refueling the aircraft while the engines are on and the crew remains in the cockpit, drastically reduces refueling times so that bombers can more rapidly return to the skies. In addition to this historic first, the B-1 integrated with Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters, Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons and Danish F-16s. The B-1 also conducted aerial refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom.

Left to right: Polish air force Col. Krzysztof Szymaniec, commander of the 33rd Transport Aviation Base; Lt. Gen. Jan Sliwka, Deputy Commander of Polish Armed Forces; Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces; U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Basham, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa deputy commander, and Polish air force Brig. Gen. Wojciech Pikula, commander of the 3rd Airlift Wing, pose for a photo in front of a USAF B-1B Lancer aircraft at Powidz Air Base, Poland, March 12, 2021. The group of military leaders observed a Bomber Task Force Europe hot-pit refuel of the B-1B, an operation demonstrating the Agile Combat Employment concept. Hot-pit refueling allows for rapid refueling while aircraft engines are still running, keeping bombers in the air near continuously. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John R. Wright)

Hot-pit refueling is a pillar of Agile Combat Employment, which enhances bombers’ ability to rapidly deploy and operate from remote locations with varying levels of capacity and support. ACE increases lethality, strengthens interoperability and advances efficiency in accomplishing the mission.

“Proving the rapid refueling concept today in Poland alongside some of our closest allies speaks for itself,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “Our bombers can get after the mission anytime, anywhere.”

Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective defense of the NATO alliance and are a visible demonstration of the U.S. capability of extended deterrence.

Continuing coverage of this deployment will be available on this website, and on the DVIDS hub at: https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/bombertaskforceeurope.