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August 28, 2009—The Air Force’s newest combat-coded B-52 unit, which will stand up next week at Minot AFB, N.D., has been officially designated the 69th Bomb Squadron, Laurie Arellano, chief of public affairs for Minot’s 5th Bomb Wing, told the Daily Report Thursday.

The new squadron is scheduled to stand up on Sept. 3, pending the release of the final decision regarding the service’s environmental impact assessment, she said.

The 69th BS will join Minot’s existing 23rd BS under the 5th BW.

After re-activation, the next major milestone for the 69th BS will be reaching initial operational capability, which is expected by the end of September, Arellano said. It will have four B-52s available for use at this point and likely will begin participating in exercises come October, she said.

More aircraft will arrive incrementally until the unit is at full strength in October 2010 with 11 primary aircraft and two backups, she said.

The 69th BS will be the fourth operational B-52 squadron. (The 2nd BW at Barksdale AFB, La., has the 20th BS and 96th BS.) Back in April 2008, the Air Force announced its plans to create the unit in order to have enough combat-ready B-52s to support combatant commanders around the world with conventional capability and still have enough assets to devote to training for the nuclear mission, which is taking on renewed emphasis across the service.

(For more, read the Minot Daily News’ Aug. 27 report, as well as Like SAC from the June issue of Air Force Magazine.)