Aircraft from the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) have been carrying out intensive training sorties with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bomber aircraft over the North Sea.
The Royal Air Force aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Waddington and RAF Brize Norton were launched, to escort USAF B-1Bs, that were conducting their latest long-range training sortie as part of the Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission. The U.S. aircraft are part of the U.S. Air Force’s 28th Bomb Wing and took off from their home base at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.
The B-1Bs were met by the RAF Typhoon fighter jets over the North Sea and were escorted towards the Baltic region where the escort was handed over to Swedish Gripen fighter jets.
A Typhoon pilot from RAF Lossiemouth based IX(B) Sqn said: “It was a privilege to fly alongside our colleagues from the United States Air Force, demonstrating our ability to work with our allies anywhere, at any time. Usually Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth are launched to intercept aircraft which may pose a threat to UK airspace, identifying them and determining their intentions.”
“In this case we escorted our allies through their first leg of NATO airspace, prior to their mission in the Baltic region” he added.
The training has also included other NATO and allied nations.
During the flight across the North Sea, the air group was joined by a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling tanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) KDC-10 tanker aircraft from the 334th Squadron, based at RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base and an RAF Voyager from RAF Brize Norton to conduct Air to Air Refuelling.
An RAF E-3D Sentry aircraft flying from RAF Waddington was also airborne at the same time. The personnel on board the Sentry coordinated the mission as the RAF and NATO aircraft flew over the North Sea.
For the first time the B-1Bs flew over Sweden to conduct integration training with Swedish Gripen fighters and conducting close-air support training with Swedish Joint Terminal Attack Controller ground teams. On leaving Swedish airspace the B-1Bs were joined by Norwegian F-35As and conducted a low-approach over Ørland Air Station, Norway.