U.S. Air Force B-52H Bombers Conduct Bomber Task Force Mission to Europe, Arctic Region

Four U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers conducted a long-range, long-duration strategic Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission throughout Europe and the Arctic region, on June 3.

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. Additionally, the aircraft conducted training with Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

“The U.S. Department of Defense is working with our Arctic nations and multinational and interagency public and private partners to maintain a secure and stable region where nations work cooperatively to address challenges”, said a statement from U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA).

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.

“The Arctic is a strategic region with growing geopolitical and global importance, and these Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate our commitment to our partners and allies and our capability to deter, assure, and defend together in an increasingly complex environment.” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “The integration of our bombers across Europe and the Arctic is key to enhancing regional security.”

According to the USAFE-AFAFRICA statement, the joint and combined training, exercises, and operations help mitigate and reduce security risks associated with increased human activity in the Arctic.

U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress
FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber breaks away from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, after receiving fuel during a strategic bomber mission, on May 7, 2020. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nuñez)

The B-52H Bomber Task Force mission follows a similar long-range, long-duration strategic BTF mission conducted by USAF B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bombers throughout Europe and the Black Sea region on May 29.

That mission marked the first time that a BTF mission integrated with Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets and Turkish KC-135s. The flight also included integration and interoperability training with Polish F-16s and MiG-29s and Romanian F-16s and MiG-21s, which provided escort and combat patrol overwatch in the Black Sea region, and training on the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).

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