USAF B-2s return to Europe

Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit stealth bombers have arrived in Europe as part of a Bomber Task Force deployment.

Two bombers arrived at Lajes in the early hours of March 9, having flown directly from Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri. Both aircraft belong to the 509th Bomb Wing, with the first, serial 88-0332 (c/n 1011/AV-11) Spirit of Washington, being employed by the 13th Bomb Squadron (BS) ‘Grim Reapers’ and the second, 82-1070 (c/n 1005/AV-5) Spirit of Ohio, serving the 393rd BS ‘Tigers’. A third B-2 – serial 82-1068 (c/n 1003/AV-3) Spirit of New York from the 13th BS – has since joined the pair.

B-2s in flight over Europe [USAF/MSgt Matthew Plew] #1
A pair of Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit stealth bombers in flight over Europe. USAF/MSgt Matthew Plew

The transatlantic flight for aircraft’s deployment was supported by McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender tanker/transports from the 305th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) at Joint Base McQuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

The US European Command (EUCOM) stated that the deployment will see the B-2s conduct theatre integration and flying training. It added that “the aircraft will operate out of various military installations in the [EUCOM’s] area of responsibility. Strategic bomber deployments to Europe provide [theatre familiarisation] for aircrew members and demonstrate [the US’] commitment to allies and partners.”

B-2 in Flight over Europe [USAF/MSgt Matthew Plew] #2
Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit - serial 82-1070 (c/n 1005/AV-5) - from the 393rd BS 'Tigers', in flight. USAF/MSgt Matthew Plew

Since the aircraft have been deployed to Lajes, they have conducted bombing training runs over Garvie Island, UK, and have now forward deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK.

Lt Gen Steven Basham, deputy commander of US Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA), said: “Operating bombers from forward locations enables collective [defence] capabilities and provides the US and NATO the strategic and operational capacity needed to deter adversaries while assuring our allies and partners.”

B-2 and F-15C [USAF/MSgt Matthew Plew] #1
The two stealth bombers in flight, having being joined by a Boeing F-15C Eagle - serial 86-0156 (c/n 1003/C384) - operated by the 48th Fighter Wing's 493rd Fighter Squadron (FS) 'The Grim Reapers'. USAF/MSgt Matthew Plew