US bombers soar into Australian airspace

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Two US Air Force supersonic heavy bombers have soared into the Northern Territory amid growing military ties between Australia and the superpower.

The B-1 Lancer bombers, known as Bones, flew to the Top End from an Indian Ocean military base to conduct training missions with the Royal Australian Airforce.

"That might include air-to-air refuelling or surveillance data transmission," Commanding Officer at RAAF Darwin Andrew Anthony said.

"One aircraft can provide another aircraft information about what it's seeing either in the ocean or on the ground."

The bombers are training off the northern Australian coast with RAAF crews flying a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and two KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transports.

Wing Commander Anthony said it would help the crews get used to flying in the same airspace at the same time.

"It's part of the interoperability between Australian and United States aircraft," he said.

During the mission the bombers rendezvoused over the Timor Sea with the two air tankers at an altitude of 30,000-feet.

RAAF crews used their aircraft's refuelling boom to plug a fuel line into the bomber's nose-mounted fuel receptacle.

The bombers will also conduct a missed approach or planned emergency diversion familiarisation training at RAAF Base Darwin.

That means the bombers and their crews will almost touchdown on the runway before powering up and climbing into the sky again.

Wing Commander Anthony said it would help the crews get to know RAAF Base Darwin "should they need to operate out of here in the future".

The US bomber's visit to Australia follows the recent AUSMIN agreement to enhance military cooperation between the two nations.

Australia doesn't have B-1 Lancer bombers in its aircraft fleet and Defence declined to say where the bombers flew to after visiting the NT.

"The great thing about these aircraft is their range and their payload," Wing Commander Anthony said.

"Of all the different aircraft in the US Air Force bomber fleet, the B1 has the largest payload for both guided and unguided munitions."

US bombers have visited Australia multiple time since World War II.

The most recent visit was earlier this year when a B-52 bomber participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre, which is the largest bilateral combined training exercise between the Australian Defence Force and the US military.

The first B-1 Lancer visit to Australia was in 1995, with regular visits since.

The aircraft also visited last year when the Marine Rotational Force and the ADF conducted Exercise Loobye in the NT.

It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons anywhere in the world and is considered the backbone of the US long-range bomber force.

The bombers flew 6000km from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the NT.

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