Using radio callsigns “Death 11” and “Death 12” two B-2s from Whiteman Air Force Base have arrived at RAF Fairford for short and rare deployment.
Even if the U.S. Air Force has selected three bases for B-2 operations outside the U.S. (RAF Fairford, in UK, Diego Garcia and Andersen AFB at Guam), overseas deployments of the Spirit stealth strategic bombers are quite unusual.
Indeed, B-2s don’t move from Whiteman AFB, in Missouri, too often as they are trained to conduct very long round-trip missions from their homebase in CONUS (Continental U.S.), as happened during recent training missions, extended nuclear deterrence sorties in the Korean Peninsula, as well as during real conflicts, as the Libya Air War in 2011 or the Allied Force in Serbia in 1999.
That’s why the deployment of two Spirit bombers with the 509th Bomb Wing to the UK is, at least, noteworthy.
Obviously, the official press release doesn’t mention the rarity of this “short-term deployment,” as it only mentions that the “multi-role heavy bombers will conduct training flights in the USEUCOM area of operations, providing opportunities for aircrews to sharpen skills in several key operational sets and become familiar with airbases and operations in the region.”
Little is known about this deployment, unlike the other one which involves three B-52s that have arrived at RAF Fairford last week and whose detachment had been exposed by aircrew patches produced ahead of the participation of the Stratofortresses to the Saber Strike and Baltops exercises.
“The training and integration of strategic forces demonstrates to our nation’s leaders and our allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and expertise to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations,” said Adm. Cecil Haney, commander, U.S. Strategic Command in the release.
For sure, the Russian threat in Europe is taken seriously by the USSTRACOM, that may have decided to deploy some strategic assets closer to Ukraine, more to show the local allies that Washington is capable to support them if needed rather than put some pressure on Moscow.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force