Four B-1B Lancers and more than 100 personnel from the USAF’s 7th Bomb Wing (BW) at Dyess AFB, Texas, have deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK, as part of the long-planned Bomber Task Force-Europe (BTF-E) 24-1 deployment.
The first pair of B-1Bs (86-0107/DY and 86-0119/DY) – operated by the 7th BW’s 28th Bomb Squadron (BS) – arrived on October 12, before being followed by a further two examples of the supersonic-capable strategic bomber (86-0103/DY and 86-0124/DY) on October 14, with these being provided by the wing’s 9th BS ‘Bats'. Though the four bombers have been drawn from separate units that are subordinated to the 7th BW, the ‘Bats’ have taken lead on the deployment under the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron moniker.
BTF deployments to both the European and Indo-Pacific theatres take place regularly and aim to support US National Defense Strategy objectives through what the USAF calls “strategic predictability” and “operational unpredictability”. Such missions are designed to enhance the training and readiness of USAF bomber crews, allowing for them to respond to potential crises across the globe at a moment’s notice. BTF deployments also provide an opportunity for allies and partner nations to integrate and train with USAF bombers in their own operational theatres.
On October 26, an unspecified number of B-1Bs departed RAF Fairford to conduct an interoperability mission with fighters from Hungary and the Czech Republic over Eastern Europe. That same day, the bombers performed a flyover of Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base in Constanta, Romania, to demonstrate US Air Force Global Strike Command’s unwavering support for the collective unity of the NATO alliance and the allied forces currently flying Air Shielding and Air Policing missions over Eastern Europe.
Commenting on the deployment, Gen James Hecker – commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa (USAFE&AFAFRICA) and NATO’s Allied Air Command – said: “In today’s challenging and dynamic security environment, the significance of these missions cannot be overemphasized. We’re not only demonstrating our commitment to collective defence but also strengthening our ability to respond to potential challenges. This underscores the enduring commitment of the US to our allies and partners.”