Four U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers conducted flights from RAF Fairford, England, to several places in Europe on March 18, 2019, including to the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea/Estonia and the Mediterranean Sea/Greece.
In Estonia, a B-52 conducted training with NATO Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) on the ground. In Greece, a B-52 conducted interoperability training with Greek/Hellenic Air Force F-16 fighter jets. The mission to Greece was enabled by aerial refueling support from a KC-135 Stratotanker based out of RAF Mildenhall, England.
According to a statement by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA), the purpose of the flights was to conduct theater familiarization for aircrew members and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners through the global employment of our military forces. The U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) regularly tests and evaluates the readiness of strategic assets to ensure we are able to honor our security commitments, added the statement.
The B-52 bombers, part of the Bomber Task Force currently deployed to the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility, are from the 2nd Bomb Wing based at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The aircraft arrived in theater on March 14-15 and are temporarily operating out of RAF Fairford.
The deployment of strategic bombers to the U.K. helps exercise RAF Fairford as U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s forward operating location for bombers. Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe.