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B-1B provides combat air support

A B-1 bomber deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, prepares to taxi at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. The B-1 provides combat air support to service members on the ground in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

A B-1 bomber deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, prepares to taxi at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. The B-1 provides combat air support to service members on the ground in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

B-1 bomber flight crew deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, take off at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. The B1 provides combat air support to troops on the ground in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

B-1 bomber flight crew deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, take off at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. The B1 provides combat air support to troops on the ground in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

Capt. Laura Hunstock prepares for takeoff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. Hunstock is a 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons system officer deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and originally from Bossier City, La. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

Capt. Laura Hunstock prepares for takeoff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. Hunstock is a 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons system officer deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and originally from Bossier City, La. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

Lt. Col. John McClung prepares for takeoff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. McClung is a 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons system officer deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and originally from Fayetteville, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

Lt. Col. John McClung prepares for takeoff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. McClung is a 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron weapons system officer deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and originally from Fayetteville, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

Maj. Jeff Cameron and Capt. Richard Hansen prepare for takeoff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. Cameron is a B-1 pilot originally from Midland, Texas, and Hansen is a B-1 pilot originally from Lancaster, Calif., both are 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron pilots currently deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

Maj. Jeff Cameron and Capt. Richard Hansen prepare for takeoff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Nov. 19, 2013. Cameron is a B-1 pilot originally from Midland, Texas, and Hansen is a B-1 pilot originally from Lancaster, Calif., both are 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron pilots currently deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- As troops on the ground mobilize or need rest at the end of the day, the B-1B is one of primary aircrafts used to ensure their safety.

The 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, is airborne throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Flying missions nearly 24/7/365, one of the B-1's capabilities and key roles here at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing is to provide combat air support to troops on the ground through long range bombing capability.

"The importance is to provide a comfort blanket for troops to pull out of a forward operating base or we provide over watch so they can get some sleep," said Capt. Erick Lord, a 9th EBS weapons systems officer and a Wichita, Kan., native. "We will fly 500 feet above the ground either at subsonic or supersonic speeds to create a lot of noise. That is usually enough to make the bad guys retreat and break contact."

Serving as the backbone of America's long-range bomber force, the B-1 carries the largest payload of guided and unguided munitions in the Air Force.

"What makes us different from the rest of the striker aircraft is we carry a ton of gas and a ton of weapons," Lord said.

The members aboard the B-1 consist of an aircraft commander, co-pilot and two weapons systems officers.

As the pilots take control of the aircraft, it's the weapons systems officers who keep the aircraft and troops on the ground safe from enemy contact.

"We are the on-call fire power of the sky," said Capt. Laura Hunstock, 9th EBS WSO and a Bossier City, La., native.

WSOs are in charge of defense counter measures, deploying ordinance, managing the sensors, the radar, and the targeting pod.

Advanced technology on the B-1 allows WSO's to view the landscape before units on the ground move into them, explained Hunstock. With this capability they are also able to assist helicopters in locating safe places to land for evacuations.

"We can clear the landing zones from any animals or any people in the area," said Hunstock, "We can pinpoint the exact location using the targeting pod."

Whether it's by show of force or dropping weapons, the 9th EBS assists American and coalition troops live to fight another day, and return home.

"Hearing the guys on the ground say, 'hey thanks, you helped us out,'" Lord said, "I think that's what we all like about this job -- it's what we live for."




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