The Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets trained together with U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers in international airspace just outside Finnmark, in Northern Norway on June 3.
This marked the third time this year, Norwegian fighter jets are conducting training flights with U.S. strategic bombers.
The U.S. Air Force, for some time now, has had regular exercises in Europe with some of their assets. Earlier this year, the Royal Norwegian Air Force conducted several joint exercises both over Iceland and Norway with the F-35s and F-16s.
“US is our closest ally. This deployment demonstrates US commitment to the defence of Europe. US forces need to conduct exercises in Europe with its allies to be able to defend Allied territories, including our national area of responsibility. Through this kind of integrated training between close allies, both our forces increase our ability to operate together seamlessly, says Chief of Defence, Haakon Bruun-Hansen.
The USAF deployed four B-52H Stratofortress bombers for a long-range, long-duration strategic Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission throughout Europe and the Arctic region. The mission was conducted by B-52Hs from the USAF’s 5th Bomb Wing based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The flight involved missions over the Arctic Ocean and Laptev Sea.
The long-range round trip from Minot AFB was supported by KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW) based at RAF Mildenhall, England, and the 168th ARW based at Eielson Air force Base, Alaska.
According to a statement from U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA), the joint and combined training, exercises, and operations help mitigate and reduce security risks associated with increased human activity in the Arctic.
B-52 Stratofortress is one of the three strategic bombers operated by the U.S. Air Force with the other two being the B-1B Lancer supersonic bomber and the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The Norwegian fighter jets have conducted integration training with both B-1B and B-2 bombers this year.