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B-52 Bombers Arrive in Europe for Integration Exercises and Training
Mar 15, 2019
by Oriana Pawlyk
The U.S. Air Force has sent B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the United Kingdom for strategic missions in Europe, according to the service.
A "bomber task force" recently arrived at RAF Fairford from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, according to the U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa (USAFE).
Up to six of the long-range bombers are expected to arrive shortly. It marks the largest deployment of one bomber platform to Europe since the command had nearly 20 bombers on the ramp at Fairford in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The command has had a bomber rotation at least once a year as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The Pentagon sent two B-2 Spirits and three B-52s to Europe that year for similar training events days after then-President Barack Obama announced he would increase the U.S. military presence in the region in what appeared to be a response to Russia's actions. Since then, the bomber variants -- including the B-1B Lancer -- have operated in European airspace alongside NATO allies.
The latest deployment will test how the bombers can conduct missions out of Fairford, with the airfield acting as USAFE's forward operating location for the heavy aircraft.
The deployment also includes joint and allied training in the U.S. European Command theater to improve bomber interoperability.
Training with joint partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.
Meanwhile, U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees strategic deterrence and global strike capabilities, including the B-52 mission, kicked off its annual command-and-control (C2) exercise to support EUCOM, officials said.
"Global Lightning 2019" is a battle staff exercise designed to train Defense Department forces "to integrate and synchronize efforts," in this case with EUCOM and other participating commands.
The C2 exercise includes personnel from a variety of nations, including foreign liaison officers from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
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Photo caption: A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from RAF Fairford, England. RAF Fairford serves as United States Air Forces in Europe's forward operating location for bombers. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)
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