US Air Force B2 stealth bombers The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber.
ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, England -- For more than 50 years the B-52H Stratofortress has served as the backbone of the United States' strategic bomber force. The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions to complete its conventional mission.
Many might associate the B-52 with its nuclear role, but today the aircraft and its crews are forward deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, England, to demonstrate the conventional capabilities the airframe offers.
"Associating the B-52 mission with a conventional mission and dropping conventional bombs is important, because it's a capability that we have and are proficient in and train to all the time," said Capt. Jeffery Shaw, 5th Bomb Wing weapons officer.
While at RAF Fairford, the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron used three B-52Hs to drop inert munitions into a target zone in Latvia and off the coast of Sweden, participate in simulated air strikes, provide naval support to vessels from 15 countries, and coordinate with Latvian, Polish and Lithuanian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.
In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, air interdiction, offensive counter-air, close air support and maritime operations.
"This is a pretty phenomenal opportunity because we're integrating the B-52 on an international scale with NATO and Baltic nations," Shaw said. "We have multiple fighter aircraft across this whole area that we're doing close air support work with--Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish JTACs...it's definitely a chance for the B-52 to showcase its capability."
While participating in various training scenarios during BALTOPS 15 and Saber Strike 15, air and ground crew members demonstrate the sustained capabilities of the B-52 and its ability to provide a credible, flexible and sustained bomber presence anywhere and anytime.
Shaw noted it's important the B-52s are participating in conventional missions in the Baltics, while operating out of a forward deployed location, projecting an expeditionary airpower. This means crew members are able to reinforce their ability to operate from a forward deployed location and employ the B-52 in a realistic close air support scenario.
Bomber operations provide a visible signal that highlights the United States' ability to deter strategic attacks, and the flexibility and range of the aircraft were seen during Operation Desert Storm, the Gulf War, Operation Allied Force and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
As seen in previous operations, the B-52 provides the ability to respond to any potential crisis, future crisis or challenge and their operations shall continue well into 2040.
The aircraft and support personnel deployed from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, along with men and women from Whiteman AFB, Missouri; F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Langley AFB, Virginia; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Navy Munitions Command Unit Charleston, and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, to support a planned B-2 and B-52 bomber deployment to England.
Video Description Credit: Senior Airman Malia Jenkins