They are hard to miss.
And if you’ve seen these massive B-52 bombers flying in and out of Gloucestershire, you may have wondered where they have been going.
Well, the United States Air Force has now announced the locations for some recent flights out of RAF Fairford.
Four United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses flew to the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean and Greece on Monday.
The USAF added that missions included:
- In Estonia, a B-52 conducted training with NATO Joint Terminal Attack Controllers on the ground.
- In Greece, a B-52 conducted interoperability training with Greek F-16 fighter jets.
The mission to Greece was enabled by aerial refueling support from a KC-135 Stratotanker based out of RAF Mildenhall, England.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Derek Peifer, 351st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, makes contact with the B-52 Stratofortress, 2nd Bomb Wing Barksdale, La., over Romania, March 18, 2019.
During air refueling, the boom operator communicates directly with the refueling aircraft to ensure safety and efficiency.
The KC-135 mission supported supported the B-52 deployed to Europe as part of the Bomber Task Force rotation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)
A USAF spokesman said; “The purpose of the flights was to conduct theater familiarization for aircrew members and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners through the global employment of our military forces.
“U.S. Strategic Command regularly tests and evaluates the readiness of strategic assets to ensure we are able to honor our security commitments.
The B-52s, part of the Bomber Task Force currently deployed to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, are from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
The aircraft arrived on March 14-15 and are temporarily operating out of RAF Fairford.
On Tuesday at RAF Fairford, a press conference was held by the USAF which gave more details about the stationing of the B-52s and crews at RAF Fairford.
It said: “Operationally, this rotation is the largest deployment of a single bomber platform since 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The deployment of strategic bombers to the U.K. helps exercise RAF Fairford as United States Air Forces in Europe’s forward operating location for bombers, as well as implements joint and allied training in the U.S. European Command theater to improve bomber interoperability.”
Why are they here?
They have arrived in what is dubbed The US European Command area of operations for a deployment that will see them conduct flying training and ‘theatre integration.
They will operate out of RAF Fairford so they could become a very familiar sight in Gloucestershire airspace.
The deployment also includes joint and allied training in the U.S. European Command theater to improve bomber interoperability.
A statement from the US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa said: “Training with joint partners, allied nations and other US Air Force units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build.”
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