Ellsworth Air Force Base launched B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing early Sunday to strike targets in Libya in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This mission marks the first time the B-1 fleet has launched combat sorties from the continental United States to strike targets overseas.
"Nearly 700 Ellsworth Airmen are currently deployed around the world supporting existing overseas contingency operations," Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing commander, said Tuesday. "But this week, the nation called again, and the Airmen of Ellsworth rallied and answered."
Ellsworth Airmen were able to generate several aircraft and hundreds of weapons to provide the combat configuration needed halfway around the globe only two days from first notice to takeoff, Taliaferro said. Their work was made difficult by the winter weather Rapid City saw over the weekend, he said.
"Our Airmen make Airpower look easy," Taliaferro said. "But it is hard work - blood, sweat, and commitment across the whole wing - that put bombs on target on the other side of the world," he said.
While the specific targets could not be disclosed, officials stated that coalition forces would be striking targets that pose a direct threat to either the civilian population or to partner nation aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone. Targets such as Libyan military sites and air defense systems have been selected to reduce their attack capabilities, while minimizing risk to the civilian population.
A no-fly zone was imposed by the United Nations in Security Council Resolution 1973.