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​Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, 340th Weapons Squadron commander, presses forward on the throttles of a B-52 Stratofortress during a training mission above the Gulf of Mexico Oct. 13, 2016. Air Force photo by SrA. Curt Beach.

​Two B-1s from Dyess AFB, Texas, and two B-52s from Barksdale AFB, La., took to the skies above the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month to take out more than 200 digital enemy targets with simulated standoff weapon strikes. The live-fly exercise was part of a larger integration exercise at Barksdale between the the 77th and 340th Weapons Schools between Oct. 10-14, according to a 2nd Bomb Wing release. A six-month training course that involved 10 agencies within the bomber community preceded the exercise. During the Oct. 13 flight, the bomber crews simulated destroying enemy air defenses. “We integrate a lot of different capabilities to try to confuse the enemy to the extent that we can get those missiles to their intended targets,” said Maj. Kevin Johnson, 77th WPS B-1 instructor, according to the release. He said the use of standoff weapons is “a critical mission set that we need to be able to execute in order to hold our enemies at risk because as threat systems become more and more advanced, they have the ability to push us further and further away,” according to the release. 77th WPS student Capt. Jon Scott said even the short period of integration was effective. “Just in a few days, we’ve learned so much from each other,” he said, according to the release. “If you want to talk about an exponential curve, it’s near vertical after this week.” Students from both weapons schools will continue training together at Nellis AFB, Nev., for the final phase.