USAF deploys six B-52s to RAF Fairford

Six US Air Force (USAF) B-52H Stratofortress bombers – belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing (BW) at Minot Air Force Base (AFB), North Dakota – deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, on August 22.

B-52H [USAF/Senior Airman Eugene Oliver]
A Boeing B-52H Stratofortress overflies RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, after it had arrived in the UK on August 22. USAF/Senior Airman Eugene Oliver

The arrival of the long-range strategic bombers at the British base is part of the USAF’s recurring Bomber Task Force-Europe missions, which have comprised more than 200 sorties since 2018. These missions were established to enhance the training and readiness of bomber crews, allowing for them to respond to potential crises across the globe. During this deployment, the six aircraft will conduct flight and theatre familiarisation training across Europe and Africa, while integrating with NATO allies and regional partners.

Gen Jeff Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, said: “B-52s are back at RAF Fairford, and will be operating across the [theatre] in what will be a very active deployment. Our ability to quickly respond and assure allies and partners rests upon the fact that we are able to deploy our B-52s at a moment’s notice.”

B-52H [USAF/Senior Airman Eugene Oliver]
Two B-52Hs arrive at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on August 22. The routine deployment of strategic bombers to the base allows US aircrews to train and integrate with the armed forces of NATO allies. USAF/Senior Airman Eugene Oliver

Shortly after their arrival in Europe, the six bombers trained alongside Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) Lockheed Martin F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons.

Gen Eirik Kristoffersen, Norway’s Chief of Defence, said: “I am very pleased that our American friends [chose] to practice in our surroundings. It is important that they are familiar with Norwegian conditions and can operate together with us if necessary.”

B-52H and F-16s [RNoAF]
Norwegian F-16s escorted the six B-52s as they arrived in Europe for their Bomber Task Force deployment on August 22. RNoAF

This deployment comes a month after the Department of the Air Force released its Arctic Strategy, which detailed the importance of the region from a strategic perspective. Training in and around Norway offers aircrews an insight into operating in Arctic conditions, given its geographical location.