U.S. B-2 Stealth Bomber, Two F-15Cs and Two RAF F-35Bs Integrate During Training Mission Over UK

A B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing leads a delta formation consisting of two F-15C Eagles assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing and two Royal Air Force F-35B Lightnings as they conduct aerial operations over the North Sea Sept. 16, 2019. The 48th Fighter Wing and the Royal Air Force routinely train with integrated 4th and 5th generation capabilities to deliver full spectrum air combat support to European allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

While we don’t know what type of “integration” mission the aircraft flew, it turned out to be a great opportunity for some cool air-to-air photographs.

The B-2A Stealth Bombers deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, as part of a Bomber Task Force, continue to carry out their daily sorties across the Europe.

As reported, on Aug. 28, one of the three strategic bombers landed at Keflavik, Iceland, marking the first landing of B-2 in Iceland, then, in the night between Sept. 4 and 5, another one flew a sortie over the Arctic Circle taking off from from RAF Fairford, UK, at around 22.45LT on Sept. 4 and returning to the deployment base at 09.45LT on Sept. 5. On Sept. 9, the B-2A “Spirit of Mississippi” (82-1071) landed at Lajes Airfield, Azores, Portugal, for a hot-pit refueling, before returning back to their deployment base.

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, two Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs assigned to RAF Marham, England, and two F-15 Eagles assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England, fly in formation behind a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England, during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe on September 16, 2019. Three B-2 bombers, Airmen and support equipment from Whiteman AFB deployed to RAF Fairford, England, as part of Bomber Task Force Europe. These multinational missions enhance our professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partner militaries during times of crisis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

Besides flying long-range missions across Europe, the B-2 Stealth Bombers are also integrating with British assets as well as U.S. ones based in the UK. As happened on Aug. 29, when two B-2s fle above the English countryside and over the White Cliffs of Dover along with two British F-35B Lightning jets in a mission that marked the first integration between the B-2 and a foreign Lightning, as well as on Sept. 16, when a B-2 flew with two F-15C from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, UK, and two RAF F-35B Lightning from RAF Marham.

A B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing leads a delta formation consisting of two F-15C Eagles assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing and two Royal Air Force F-35B Lightnings as they conduct aerial operations over the North Sea Sept. 16, 2019.The 48th Fighter Wing and the Royal Air Force routinely train with integrated 4th and 5th generation capabilities to deliver full spectrum air combat support to European allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

No additional detail about the joint mission has been released but at least the U.S. DoD has released some really interesting photographs showing the rather unusual formation trailing a KC-135 tanker of the 100th ARW (Air Refueling Wing) from RAF Mildenhall, UK, for the photo-shooting part of the sortie.

A B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, and an F-15C Eagle assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing conduct aerial refuelling operations with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing over the North Sea Sept. 16, 2019. The 48th Fighter Wing routinely trains with integrated aerial platform capabilities to deliver full spectrum air combat support to European allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Interestingly, the KC-135s supporting the B-2s can be regularly tracked using ADS-B/Mode-S. Their activity gives a hint at the tanker support the Spirit bombers get as well as the area of operations.

For instance, on Sept. 16, two B-2As were involved in a mission in the Norwegian Sea area:

On their way back to RAF Fairford, QID518 supported MYTEE 21 flight on Sept. 16 afternoon.



About David Cenciotti 3890 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.