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Spirits train alongside British Lightnings

Photo: A pair of B-2s flies with UK F-35Bs over the White Cliffs near Dover. Crown Copyright

 

The US Air Force deployed a task force of B-2A Spirit stealth bombers on August 26 from the 509th BW at Whiteman AFB in Missouri to RAF Fairford, UK. The USAF said that the deployment was to conduct theater integration and flying training to improve bomber interoperability.

One of the aircraft made the first ever visit by a B-2 to Iceland on August 28 as a single aircraft arrived at Keflavik for a brief stopover. On August 29, two B-2s flew a mission alongside British F-35B Lightning IIs, as illustrated in the photo leading this story.

This is the latest in a series of high profile deployments to Europe by key USAF assets. A squadron of F-35As was deployed throughout the summer as part of a Theater Support Package (TSP). The deployment is also designed to exercise the rapid basing concept and exercises the team at RAF Fairford to be ready to support recurring bomber assurance and deterrence operations.

Col Jared Kennish, 322nd Air Expeditionary Group commander told Air Force Magazine: ‘The bomber assurance and deterrence missions these three aircraft are supporting are key to reinforcing our commitment to our allies in NATO – in a very visible, very tangible way – that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them, no matter what.’

‘This short-term deployment demonstrates the flexible global strike capabilities of the US bomber force, and ensures bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness.’

The deployment combines 509th BW and the Missouri ANG’s 131st BW, which has now reached full operational capability and able to perform the strategic bomber mission alongside its active-duty partner — and it is leading the current UK deployment.

The B-2 is featured in Combat Aircraft’s forthcoming October issue in a free 28-page US strategic bombers supplement, on sale from September 5.

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