’BUFF’ SHOW OF FORCE

Stratofortress in the UK

In March, six US Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, for one of the most significant bomber deployments to Europe in over a decade, as Ashley Wallace details.

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B-52H 60-0024 callsign ‘Aero 81’ is seen getting airborne at RAF Fairford on March 28 as the first of five aircraft that flew to Norway on this day.
Ashley Wallace
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’Aero 63’ departs RAF Fairford in typical ‘BUFF’ style on March 25.
Ashley Wallace

Despite its veteran status, the US Air Force’s B-52H Stratofortress is as relevant as ever in representing the pinnacle of US air power projection. Even as the new B-21 Raider waits in the wings, the mighty ‘BUFF’ (Big Ugly Fat Fella) is set to outlast the B-1 and B-2 – it’s still virtually irreplaceable. Indeed, a host of new upgrades are in train for the B-52, including integration of the new Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile and a long-awaited re-engining project.

Six B-52Hs from the 2nd Bomb Wing based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana arrived at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, over the course of three days from March 14-16 – operationally, this was the largest deployment of a single USAF bomber type to the UK since 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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