Ellsworth Bones training in Australia testing new facilities.

Ellsworth Bones training in Australia testing new facilities.

28th Bomb Wing B-1 Lancers take part in Diamond Storm 22.

BONE’s train with AWIC students and also test RAAF Base Darwin’s newly constructed Bomber Replenishment Apron.

Jaryd Stock

Images: William Nguyễn Phước, USAF



During the last week of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) exercise Diamond Storm 22 two United States Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancers from the 34th Bomb Squadron nicknamed the “Thunderbirds” flew from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to RAAF Base Darwin on Monday the 20th and Wednesday the 22nd to participate in the exercise.

The two B-1’s affectionately know as the BONE (B-ONE) by their crews are apart of the U.S. Pacific Air Force (PACAF) Bomber Task Force deployment to Guam where four B-1’s and personnel from the 28th Bomb Wing located at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota have deployed to Guam on June 3rd for an unspecified time period.

Speaking to APD a PACAF spokesperson stated that “While they are in Guam they will train alongside allies, partners, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Joint Force. Improved interoperability showcases our strength and bolsters our collective ability to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

With the RAAF and USAF always seeking to develop and strengthen relationships the deployment of the B-1’s to Guam saw the “Thunderbirds” participate in Exercise Diamond Storm, which is apart of the RAAF’s six month Air Warfare Instructors course. The aircraft participation in Exercise Diamond Storm is part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) initiative, which commenced in February 2017, to build on a broad range of long-standing air exercises and training activities already undertaken between Australia and the United States.

A spokesperson from the Australian Defence Force told APD, “EAC aims to deepen advanced air-to-air integration between the Australian Defence Force and US air elements to better enable us to operate together seamlessly, and has been operating successfully for several years as one of the United States Force Posture Initiatives.

EAC also provides opportunities to enhance Australia and United States engagement with regional partner air forces through involvement in exercises and training activities, as is the case with Exercise Diamond Storm.

Exercise Diamond Storm is the culmination activity of the third biennial Air Warfare Instructor Course. The trainee air warfare instructors develop their expertise through academic activities and practical exercises that expose the candidates to complex scenarios, focused on broadening and improving their skills.”

B1-B Lancer participation in Exercise Diamond Storm provided additional complexity for our trainees requiring interoperability with a partner nation platform they do not always have exposure to.


Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, fly by Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin.- USAF


RAAF Wing Commander Andrew Hagstrom Commanding Officer of 88 Squadron said that training with USAF helps the students participating in the AWIC course to gain a better understanding of how to work efficiently with aircraft they don’t regularly get to train with.

“The amount of learning that we get out off dissimilar platforms the capabilities they can bring, and the richness and integration that is required to bring these capabilities together that the students really benefit from.

Even though we might speak English between the United States and Australia it can be a different language sometimes, but broadly our tactics are interchangeable and the way we operate together provides that extra level of richness to the scenario they are training together in.”

As part of the training in Australia, it was a opportune time for the B-1’s to work with the RAAF on the ground at the base in Darwin, this was the first time any USAF Bomber has been able to utilise the newly constructed Bomber Replenishment Apron (BRA) at RAAF Base Darwin, which has been especially built to house four large aircraft, and highlights the United States willingness to invest in defence facilities in and around Australia’s Top End and maybe even showcases the development of deploying bombers to Australia on rotation in years to come.

With the arrival of the aircraft into Darwin the BONE’s conducted a “hot pit” refuelling at the BRA using USAF and RAAF ground crews. “Hot pitting” or refuelling the aircraft while the engines are on and the crew remains in the cockpit, drastically reduces refuelling times so that bombers can more rapidly return to the skies.

RAAF crews at RAAF Base Amberley also trained in “hot pit” refuelling when a B-2A Spirit stealth bomber participated in Diamond Shield back in May 2022.

ADF said that “Air Force has welcomed the visiting US aircraft and personnel and has appreciated the opportunity to work together during the conduct of this activity.”


A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, taxis to the runway at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to depart for Australia in the early morning.- USAF


B-1 blasts into the air after refuelling at RAAF Base Darwin with a MRF-D MV-22 from VMM-268 returning to the FRA.- William Nguyen Phuoc.


RAAF and USAF personnel conduct a hot pit refuel on two B-1B Lancers, assigned to 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin.- USAF

Jaryd Stock on Flickr
Jaryd Stock
Jaryd Stock is based in Sydney Australia. He has been a die-hard aviation enthusiast from a young age when he was chauffeured around by his father to various airshows and airports around Australia. At his first Airshow he witnessed the awesomeness of a General Dynamics F-111C and immediately fell in love with aviation.

Jaryd picked up a camera at a young age and has never looked back. He now combines photography and writing to highlight "Downunder" aviation; especially U.S. DoD units. Jaryd uses Nikon cameras and lenses.
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