Two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from the 9th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, flew a Bomber Task Force mission alongside two French Mirages, as well as two UK and two US F-35s from UK Carrier Strike Group’s HMS Queen Elizabeth over Camp Lemonnier, Dijbouti, on 11 November.
“Today’s bomber task force mission served as a visual representation of the international participants’ collective commitment to stability and security in the Horn of Africa,” said Major General Gregory Anderson, US Africa Command Director of Operations. “And it further demonstrates Djibouti as a leading security partner in the region.”
The mission, which originated from Royal Air Force Fairford, UK, provided an opportunity for the aircrews to work with international forces aboard the carrier strike group and those assigned to Camp Lemonnier, the US’s only enduring base in Africa. The mission also exercised the US aircrews’ ability to operate in and through a variety of airspaces, US Africa Command (Africom) said.
After flying more than 7 000 nautical miles to reach Djibouti, bomber aircrews worked with US and French joint terminal attack controllers to provide simulated close air support at Djibouti’s Grand Bara Range and went on to execute the low approach above Camp Lemonnier joined by the six fighter aircraft.
“I am delighted that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group is able to participate in this event, it further demonstrates that the Strike Group and this deployment is truly international by design,” said UK Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE, Commander, UK Carrier Strike Group. “The ability to operate seamlessly with our allies shows that we are stronger together and underpins stability and security within the region.”
The bomber task force mission coincided with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Allied Appreciation Day event where approximately 200 guests and senior leaders representing Djibouti, France, the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, and the US came together to witness the low approach, and participate in a variety of interactive and static demonstrations. “The event showcased the combined military strength present in Djibouti and served to honour the shared partnerships, history and devotion to peace celebrated during Veterans, Armistice and Remembrance days,” Africom said.
“Celebrating together this allied appreciation day is the symbol of our mutual involvement for peace in Horn of Africa, as in other parts of Africa, particularly in the Sahel,” said Air Division General Stéphane Dupont, Commander, French Forces in Djibouti. “Our action here in Djibouti is paramount for regional stability and contributes to the strengthening of the cooperation amongst our countries.”
Africom said Djibouti and the US have a long history of cooperation on a variety of issues related to security and stability throughout East Africa. “The strategic bombers’ flight to Djibouti underscores the US’s commitment to this important ongoing partnership.”