Three U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers flew over the territory of Ukraine for the first time on Sept. 4.
The B-52H bombers took off from the Royal Air Force base of RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom on Sept. 4 morning and flew over Europe accompanied by fighter jets from NATO and key Allied partners. Ukrainian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-27 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets met the B-52s on the Polish border, escorted it through the territory of Ukraine to the coast of the Sea of Azov and back.
During the mission, the bombers conducted vital integration training with the Ukrainian jets. The bombers reportedly flew near the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula and near areas under the control of Kremlin-supported separatists.
“The patrol is planned to achieve interoperability between NATO and Partner countries. It is likely that such cooperation in the field of collective security will continue,” said a statement by Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
The strategic bomber mission is part of the long-planned deployment of six B-52 bombers to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. The bombers belonged to the USAF’s 5th Bomb Wing based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
“The mission provided partners valuable midair training. In addition, the mission demonstrated how forward-located aircraft and crews, such as those in the B-52 units, enable collective defense capabilities and provide the U.S., NATO Allies and partners strategic and operational breadth to deter Russia and assure Allies and partners”, said a statement from the U.S. European Command (EUCOM).
More than 200 related missions have been conducted since the Bomber Task Force (BTF) launched operations in the European theater two years ago.
“These ongoing bomber missions showcase the U.S. Air Force’s ability to continually execute flying missions, sustain readiness and support Allies and partners across Europe, regardless of external challenges to include the current global COVID-19 crisis response”, added the EUCOM statement.