B-2A Spirits conduct first-ever forward operations from Iceland

Three US Air Force Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing (BW) at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri, arrived at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland on August 23.

The stealth bombers and their associated personnel have deployed on a long-planned Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission, which marks their first-ever forward operation out of Iceland. This deployment highlights the capabilities of Air Force Global Strike Command's (AFGSC's) airmen in executing bomber-specific agile combat employment (ACE) operations in the European theatre.

B-2 flies in formation with F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles
A USAF B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th BW is joined by an F-15C Eagle and two F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing, for a formation flight over the North Sea during a Bomber Task force mission. USAF/Staff Sgt Rachel Maxwell

During the deployment, aircrew and airmen of the 509th BW will perform missions to familiarise them on how to operate within the European theatre and airspace, whilst simultaneously enhancing skills and relationships with NATO allies and regional partners. On August 25, a B-2 Spirit flew in formation over the North Sea with RAF Lakenheath-based 48th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles, the stealth bomber then performed low approaches at RAF Fairford on the same evening. This clearly highlighted the migrated work that the B-2As and their crews are carrying out with US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa (USAFE&AFAFRICA) partners whilst deployed on the BTF mission.

The BTF missions have been occurring since 2018, with multiple USAF Bomber Wings and multiple Bomber platforms deploying to bases across Europe including, RAF Fairford in the UK. Although this is the first BTF mission performed by B-2 aircraft operating out of Iceland, it is not the first time the B-2 has been to Iceland, in late 2019, the B-2 made its first ever visit to Iceland by landing at Keflavik Air Base for a hot pit refuel.

Gen Jeff Harrigian, USAFE&AFARICA commander, said: “Regularly cooperating bomber activities with allies and partners helps us better address challenges in today’s complex global security environment. Strong partnerships are essential to our ability to deter, defend and win.”