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Deploying US Air Force B-52s landing at RAF Fairford

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress leads a formation of aircraft including two Polish air force F-16 Fighting Falcons, four U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, two German Eurofighter Typhoons and four Swedish Gripens over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2016. The formation was captured from a KC-135 from the 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Force Base, Indiana as part of exercise BALTOPS 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Babis)

Several U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft are expected to arrive at RAF Fairford this week to begin a European deployment, the military announced Thursday.

The first of the Barksdale Air Force Base, La.-based long-range strategic bombers were expected to arrive Thursday, with more coming throughout the weekend, U.S. Air Forces in Europe said in a statement. The planes and crews of the 2nd Bomb Wing, alongside additional airmen and equipment, will conduct theater integration and flight training during their deployment.

The aircraft will operate out of RAF Fairford, USAFE’s forward operating location for bombers, and will participate in training exercises with local U.S. forces and NATO allies.

“Training with joint partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges,” USAFE said.

Deployment of the bombers to Europe is part of the Operation Atlantic Resolve campaign, which is aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia’s growing assertiveness. During the post-Cold War era, it was relatively rare to send long-range bombers to Europe, but recent tensions with Russia have prompted the Air Force to incorporate the aircraft into more alliance exercises.

Last year, three B1-B Lancers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, deployed to the base for a month in May for NATO exercises BALTOPS and Saber Strike. A B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base arrived in September for Sable Strike.

A flight of Boeing B-52H Stratofortresses from the 2nd Bomb Wing accompanied by 800 airmen deployed to RAF Fairford for similar exercises across Europe in May 2017.

Thursday’s announcement did not state the number of bombers or troops being deployed, or the length of the rotation. But USAFE deputy commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian is expected to brief reporters about it on Tuesday.


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