This was the B-2’s first mission this far north in the European theater.
A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber flew an extended duration sortie over the Arctic Circle as part of a Bomber Task Force exercise in the night between Sept. 4 and 5.
According to the local spotters, the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber belonging to the 509th Bomb Wing, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and deployed to the UK for a Bomber Task Force exercise, took off from from RAF Fairford, UK, at around 22.45LT on Sept. 4 and returned to the deployment base at 09.45LT on Sept. 5.
The B-2 was accompanied by KC-135 tankers belonging to the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall, UK.
Interestingly, according to the USAFE public release, just one of the three B-2As flew a familiarization sortie to the Arctic Circle, “the B-2’s first mission this far north in the European theater”. It’s not clear where the other two aircraft went, considered that locals saw the three aircraft leave and return together.
The photos in this post show the Spirit bomber refueling on its way to the Arctic Circle.
The three B-2s, 89-0168 “Spirit of New York”, 89-0129 “Spirit of Georgia” and 82-1071 “Spirit of Mississippi”, arrived at RAF Fairford in the night on Aug. 27, 2019.
Beginning on the next day, the aircraft have started launching sorties from their deployment base. On Aug. 28, one of the three strategic bombers landed at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, marking the first landing of B-2 in Iceland. The use of Keflavik as a forward operating base for the B-2 is particularly interesting, as it expanded the capabilities of the stealth bomber well into the Arctic region, a region whose strategic importance and value were reaffirmed with the “extended duration mission” flown there last night.