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Stealth bomber joins team

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (AFPN) -- The B-2 Spirit multirole bomber has joined forces with the B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker at a forward-deployed location.

As forces build up throughout the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, the B-2 adds another asset to the coalition team.

"Every airframe and every team member brings different skills and different abilities to the fight," said Col. George Gagnon, 40th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. "With the integrated team that we've developed at this location, we're ready to take on any task that the commander in chief asks of us."

Adding to the capabilities of the B-52s and the B-1 Lancers already in the area, the B-2's low-observable or "stealth" characteristics give it the ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued and heavily defended targets.

"Our primary job is 'kicking the door down,' as we like to say," said 1st Lt. Matthew Hasson, a 509th Bomb Wing public affairs officer from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., the home station of all the B-2s. "We clear out the integrated air defenses that pose a threat to the other, less-stealthy airframes."

Able to carry 40,000 pounds of armament, the B-2 can clear the way for the 70,000-pound payload of the B-52 in critical areas, Gagnon said.

"Working as a team," the colonel said, "we'll destroy, disrupt and degrade all of the enemy's capabilities for a decisive victory."

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