B‑52s Deploy to Europe, Train in Norway

 In U.S. Air Force, Defense, EMEA, Air, Forces & Capabilities, Norway, NATO

Six B‑52s trained along­side Royal Norwegian F‑16s and F‑35s in Northern Norway short­ly after they deployed to Europe on Aug. 22.

The task force of B‑52s deployed to RAF Fairford, England, from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., for a “long planned train­ing mis­sion where the air­craft will con­duct the­ater and flight train­ing across Europe and Africa,” U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said in a release.

“I am happy that our American friends choose to prac­tice and train in our local areas,” Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen said in a trans­la­tion of an Aug. 24 Norwegian release. “It is impor­tant that they know Norwegian con­di­tions and can oper­ate with us if nec­es­sary.”

A B-52 Stratofortress flies overhead at RAF Fairford, U.K., on Aug. 22, 2020. Photo: Senior Airman Eugene Oliver

The mis­sion comes about one month after the Department of the Air Force released its first-ever Arctic Strategy, citing the increased strate­gic impor­tance of the region. “Given the Arctic’s vast dis­tances and chal­lenges to sur­face oper­a­tions, air and space capa­bil­i­ties have long been essen­tial to gain rapid access and pro­vide all-domain aware­ness, early warn­ing, satel­lite com­mand and con­trol, and effec­tive deter­rence,” states the strat­e­gy.

A B‑52 last trained with Norway in June when the bomber flew along­side a group of Norwegian F‑35s in the Arctic. The bombers short­ly after flew a long-range strate­gic train­ing mis­sion to the Baltics.

Two B-52 Stratofortressess fly overhead at RAF Fairford, U.K., on Aug. 22, 2020. Photo: Senior Airman Eugene Oliver

RAF Fairford is the reg­u­lar home for bombers deployed to Europe. The base, which was once only kept in “warm status,” now is capa­ble of 247 oper­a­tions and it can host both bombers and intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, and recon­nais­sance air­craft, Col. Kurt Wendt, com­man­der of the 501st Combat Support Wing that over­sees the base, told Air Force Magazine. The base has about 450 per­son­nel, with reopened lodg­ing and dining facil­i­ties to pro­vide sup­port.

“There is a very, very pow­er­ful aspect in putting bombers in Europe. It is a visual state­ment of not just our abil­i­ty to apply combat power, but it’s a visual state­ment to our … NATO allies, and cer­tain­ly to our U.K. hosts here in England, that we are here to sup­port them, we are here as a part of the NATO alliance, and we are here for our allies,” Wendt said.

Air Force Magazine source|articles

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