Exercise Ample Strike 2016

Exercise Background

Exercise Ample Strike 2016 was a Czech run Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) exercise which runs from the 30th August until the 20th September 2016.

In total 17 NATO and Partnership for peace nations will take part with the following air assets and personnel being involved:


297 military personnel, 24 aircraft, 24 FAC teams

Aircraft Number Country Based at
L-39 Albatros 1 Lithuania22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic
Pilatus PC-9M 2 Slovenia 22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic
Pilatus PC-9M 1 Germany 22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic
Learjet 2 Germany 22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic
Tornado 2 Germany Neuburg Air Base, Germany
Su-22M4 4 Poland 22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic
JAS39 Gripen 2 Hungary KecskemÈt Air Base, Hungary
AH-64 5 USA Libav· Military training area, Czech Republic
KC-135 2 USA Pardubice airport, Czech Republic
B-1 2 USA Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom
B-52 1 USA Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom


1,000 military personnel, 10 aircraft, 3 JTAC teams, 2 x 180 Active Reserve personnel:

Aircraft Number Based at
Mi-24&35 Hind 3 Libav· Military training area, Czech Republic
L-39ZA Albatros 1 21st Tactical Air Base, C·slav, Czech Republic
L-159 Alca 4 21st Tactical Air Base, C·slav, Czech Republic
JAS-39 Gripen 1 21st Tactical Air Base, C·slav, Czech Republic

Wednesday 7th September invited guests arrived at RAF Fairford on a dull and cloudy morning to be greeted by personnel from the Public affairs department who briefed us on the planned events of the day.

The USAF participation for Ample Strike 2016 has seen it deploy 2x B-1B Lancer and 1x B-52 Stratofortress bombers to RAF Fairford. The B-1B's come from the 489th Bomb Group/7th Bomb Wing out of Dyess AFB and the B-52 from the 307th Bomb Wing/93rd Bomb Squadron out of Barksdale AFB.

The 489th Bomb Group

U.S. Air Force Col. Denis A. Heinz

Col. Denis A. Heinz the commander of the 489th BG proceeded to give a brief on his involvement and how he became the unit commander.

Col. Heinz had been a B-52 flyer (5300hrs) as a active duty & reservist and involved in the "Total force integration" (TFI) of B-52 active and reserve units in 2011. The process involves active duty personnel loosing some positions that are then filled by reservists. The reasoning behind TFI was explained very simply, prior to TFI the regulars would fly the aircraft weekdays and the reservists at the weekends totally separate from each other in peacetime operations however when it came to war both active duty and reservists could and have been on the same mission crew, so as a cost saving exercise TFI was introduced. With the successful standing up of that B-52 unit a decision was made to stand up a B-1B unit that unit was to be designated the 489th Bomb Group.

History of 489th Bombardment Group:

The 489th Bombardment group transferred to the 8th Air Force in April/May of 1944 operating the B-24 Liberator out of RAF Halesworth in Suffolk. The unit having only a short combat role in Europe before being the 1st 8th Air Force unit to be set for redeployment to the Pacific, it was relived of assignment at the end of November 1944 returning to the United States to re-equip with the B-29 Superfortress. War in the pacific ended before the 489th could be deployed and was officially stood down on the 17th October 1945.

The 489th BG Today:

Role forward exactly 70 years to 17th October 2015 the 489th was reactivated initially with just 14 members, since then they have been actively recruiting personnel who are leaving active duty positions and strength currently stands at 120 with another 130 positions still to be filled. Of the projected 250 personnel approximately 30 will be on the ops squadron as fliers. The bomb group reactivation includes the 345th Bomb Squadron, the 489th Maintenance Squadron and the 489th Aerospace Medical Flight. The 489th BW are providing a B-1 formal training element as well as supporting combat operations. This allows reservists to work side-by-side with 7th Bomb Wing and regular Air Force counterparts on a daily basis this is "Total Force Integration". The 489th Bomb Group are part of the 307th Bomb Wing which is located at Barksdale AFB, Texas however the units aircraft are taken from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB.

Ample Strike 2016

The deployment to RAF Fairford is the units first deployment and as yet they haven’t reached IOC (Initial Operational Capable) however they are the lead unit for this deployment with both active duty and reservist personnel deploying to RAF Fairford approx 100 in total.

The 2nd aircraft element of the deployment involved the B-52 from the 307th BW.

U.S. Air Force Col. Denis A. Heinz

Captain James Bresnahan, Instructor Pilot from the formal training unit at Barksdale, explained that during Ample Strike the B-52 would provide Close Air Support (CAS) over the exercise area in the Czech republic enabling JTACS and forward air controller from 18 member nations the experience of simulated CAS and provide valuable integration training for the standard operating procedures of all the participating countries, no weapons of any type would be deployed during Ample Strike by either the B-52 or B-1.

Debrief takes place post sortie via email & phone with feedback between parties enabling tactics and scenarios to be updated for future missions during Ample Strike and beyond. All missions flown were single ship with no Air to Air refuelling required but during a mission multiple JTACS

The B-52 is expected to remain in service for another 25-30 years and is currently the air system that can deploy the widest range of the US Air Forces air launched weapon systems, through a series of avionic and communications upgrades over the years which continue to this day the B-52H remains at the forefront of the USAF Global Power projection strategy.

Sunday 4th September saw both a B-1B (85-0089/DY, 489th Bomb Wing) & a B-52H (60-0038/BD, 307th Bomb Wing,93rd Bomb Squadron) fly a familiarisation sortie to the exercise in the Czech Republic

A little over three hours later the both aircraft returned to RAF Fairford and taxied back to stand

On the day of the visit only a B-1B was flying a mission 85-0089/DY which was the 489th OG/CC Specially marked aircraft with nose art "POW MIA". This flew out to the Czech Republic which in the gloomy conditions showed off the amazing 4 afterburning General Electric F101-102 engines

Maintenance engineers worked on one of the engines of the 2nd B-1B Lancer 86-0127/DY of the 7BW, 9BS

A wide variety of unit and squadron badges were on show

Macks Aviation Photography would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to 1st Lt. Krystal Jimenez 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs RAF Alconbury, 1st Lt. Monique A. Roux USAFR Deputy Chief – 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs and Protocol & TSgt. Nicholas Filip 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs and Protocol from Barksdale AFB in providing the opportunity to take part in this event, and special thanks go to Col. Denis Heinz, Commander – 489th Bomb Group, Dyess AFB, Texas who is justifiably proud of the men & women under his command on this deployment, all of whom made this article possible

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