U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses long-range bombers continue training off the coast of Russia’s western enclave of Kaliningrad in the Baltic Region.
Four U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft conducted flights from RAF Fairford, England, to airspace over the Baltic Sea for a 24-hour period on March 22, 2019, demonstrating U.S. ability to maintain sustained combat capacity for a prolonged duration, according to a news release put out by U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa.
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. U.S. Strategic Command regularly tests and evaluates the readiness of strategic assets to ensure we are able to honor our security commitments.
The B-52s, part of the Bomber Task Force currently deployed to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, are from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, 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.
A statement from NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu claims that: “This is a routine deployment, but it shows that the US nuclear umbrella protects Europe and demonstrates the unique capabilities the US could bring to Europe in a crisis. The B-52 deployment is yet another sign that the United States is strongly committed to NATO”.
The United States has deployed strategic bombers in Europe at least once a year since 2014. Since then, all three US bomber variants – the B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers – have deployed to Fairford airbase for exercises with European NATO Allies, including to Exercise Baltops and Exercise Sabre Strike.