The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces has announced on Wednesday that two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, fly over Sweden for first-time.
The service said B-1s have flown over Sweden to integrate with Swedish Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets while conducting close-air support training with Swedish Joint Terminal Attack Controller ground teams at Vidsel Range.
Sweden is not a NATO member but is a partner country. In 2014, Sweden signed a host country agreement with NATO allowing for the allied forces to conduct joint training exercises in the country.
“Long-range bomber training missions strengthen our steadfast partnerships with allies across both Europe and Africa and showcase our ability to respond globally from anywhere,” said U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, Gen. Jeff Harrigian. “This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking groundbreaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations.”
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, and a Dutch KDC-10 from the 334th Squadron, RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands, enabled the B-1 to complete the round trip from Ellsworth Air Force Base without stopping, while also providing aerial refueling support to our partner-nation aircraft.
During the flight, the B-1s were escorted by Royal Air Force Typhoons over the United Kingdom.
As Barents Observer reported, Norway’s Defense command says Wednesday’s exercise is “one of the largest of its kind, and several allied and partners trained along with the U.S. B-1B.”
The B-1B bomber is one of the three types of US strategic bombers. The two others are the B-2 stealth aircraft and the B-52.
Norwegian F-35s were flying together with the B-2 in March this year in Icelandic airspace and over the North-Atlantic. Last November, Norwegian F-16s followed three U.S. B-52 bombers all north to the Barents Sea.
The Norwegian military says such joint flight missions are of high priority.
“Today we have conducted complex flight operations with advanced systems, both on the ground and in the air,” says Lieutenant Colonel Ståle Nymoen. He is the commander of the 332 squadron which operates the F-35s from Ørland airbase.
In Sweden, the exercise included refueling of the Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets from an American KC-135 tanker.