June 2017 see’s history made at RAF Fairford as for the first time ever in the European theatre all three of the United States Air Forces strategic heavy bombers have been deployed together on training exercises at the same base, these include three Boeing B-52 Stratofortress from the 2nd bomb wing based at Minot Airforce base three Rockwell B-1 Lancer from the 28th bomb wing based at Ellsworth Airforce base and two Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit from the 509nd bomb wing based at Whiteman air force base. The aircraft are set to be stationed at RAF Fairford for around three weeks and are taking part in a number of exercises including Saber Strike, Baltops and Arctic Challenge.

For this deployment the B-2 spirits have been deployed in support of the US Air Force Global Strike Command recurring bomber assurance and deterrence operations and will not take part in the specific exercises in which the B1s and B52s were deployed to participate in. “This short-term deployment demonstrates the flexible global strike capabilities of the U.S. bomber force, and ensures bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness,”. “The training will provide opportunities to integrate capabilities with regional partners, and is part of the United States’ commitment to supporting global security.” Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe.

2017 sees the 45th edition of Exercise BALTIC OPERATIONS or simply Baltops which takes place in the Baltic Sea area of interest from the 1st of June to the 16th and comprises of a number of Air, Sea and Ground assets from 14 NATO countries in total the exercise involves 4,000 shipboard personnel, 50 ships and submarines and more than 50 aircraft

Running alongside Baltops, Saber Strike is a multinational predominantly land based exercise which helps to enable cooperation between the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and allied and partner nations.

Aircraft to have taken part in this deployment are as follows

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

  • 82-1068 “Spirit of New York” 509th BW
  • 86-0329 “Spirit of Missouri” 509th BW

Rockwell B-1 Lancer

  • 85-0083 (EL) 34th BS “Overnight Delivery”
  • 85-0084 (EL) 34th BS “Hard Raid’ Nose”
  • 86-0139 (EL) 34th BS ”Dakota Queen”

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

  • 60-0002 (LA) “Lets Roll”
  • 60-0021 (LA) “Black Jack”
  • 61-0020 (LA) “The Big Stick”

Article by Kurt Fairhurst Assisted by Paul Atkin with thanks to the US Air Force in Europe Public Affairs team and all the crew for their help during the media day.