B-52 bombers showcase capability to operate from civilian airport in Louisiana

U.S. Air Force photo

Two B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers from the 20th Bomb Squadron recently landed at a civilian airfield as part of Exercise Bayou Vigilance.  

On April 12, 2024, the 20th Bomb Squadron demonstrated its ability to adjust to deteriorated conditions by landing the B-52 bombers at Chennault International Airport (CWF) in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  

“When it comes to nuclear war, all bets are off and we need to be prepared to adapt to the current situation,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jared Patterson, 20th BS commander. “We are demonstrating a capability, and that capability is to land a B-52 anywhere across the globe […] We’re doing it close to home this time around, but this proved we can do it anywhere around the globe.” 

The landing necessitated coordination between the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and Chennault International Airport personnel, highlighting the importance of collaboration between military and civilian entities in ensuring national security. 

According to Kevin Melton, the Executive Director of Chennault International Airport, the partnership between the 2nd BW and the airport is significant as it offers the wing an alternative location for training and operations. 

The recent exercise involving the B-52H bomber demonstrated the importance of spreading operational capabilities across various sites to deter and complicate enemy targeting efforts. It employed a dispersion strategy reminiscent of Cold War-era tactics. It aimed to show how quickly the bombers could spread across the country if their primary base was compromised.  

The US Department of Defense has termed this strategy the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) doctrine. It has recently garnered renewed interest among Western air forces, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

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