Here Are All The Best Photos Of The B-52s Escorted By NATO Fighters During Their Unprecedented Tour Of Europe

Composite image showing the B-52 escorted by the BAF F-16s, the Polish AF MiG-29s and F-16s and intercepted by the Russian Su-27 over the Black Sea. In the box, the route of NATO 01. (Image credit: TheAviationist/BAF/Polish Air Force/Zvezda/ADSBExchange)

Yesterday, U.S. Air Force B-52s flew over the capitals of 30 NATO members. The mission was also an opportunity to take some great shots.

On Aug. 28, 2020, four B-52H Stratofortress bombers, belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing, from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, as part of the latest Bomber Task Force Europe, carried out an unprecedented mission across Europe.

Allied Sky was a single-day mission that saw 6 B-52s overflying all 30 NATO nations to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the U.S. and NATO allies.

Allied Sky was conducted by two teams: four B-52 Stratofortresses out of six currently deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, U.K., were tasked to cover European portion of the mission (that would see also the integration with with several NATO nations’ air force fighter aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft in the skies above each host nation); two B-52 Stratofortresses assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N. D., flew over the NATO nations of Canada and the United States.

During the mission, out of the four B-52 flying in Europe, only 61-0034 used its Mode-S transponder and could be tracked online during its long trip (the others, serials 60-0005, 60-0007 and 60-0056, could not be tracked online using the popular flight tracking websites ADSBExchange, PlaneRadar, Airnav RadarBox etc.).

Using the radio callsign “NATO 01” (a first, considered that the callsign NATO xx is usually reserved to the Alliance’s E-3A AWACS home-based at Geilenkirchen Air Base), the B-52H/61-0034, undertook an interesting tour flying from RAF Fairford across Eastern Europe to the Black Sea area and then back via (among the others) Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.

The route roughly flown by NATO01 (there are some parts where the aircraft was not under MLAT coverage on ADSBExchange. In particular we don’t see the segment the B-52 flew over the Black Sea). (Image credit: ADSBExchange)

Overall, the B-52s in Europe were escorted by combat aircraft of all types: RAF Typhoons and FAF Mirage 2000 over the Baltic off Lithuania; while flying over Belgium, 60-0005 was escorted by BAF F-16s; the 60-0005 (NATO 04) was also intercepted and escorted by RDAF F-16s and RNoAF F-35s; over Poland, the B-52 60-0056 was escorted by F-16s and MiG-29s; while the BUFF 61-0034 was accompanied by JAS 39 Gripen over the Czech Republic; by F-16s and MiG-21 Lancers over Romania; MiG-29s over Bulgaria; MiG-21s over Croatia; F-16s over Greece; Italian Air Force Typhoons and F-35s intercepted and escorted NATO 01 over Italy.

During the Turkish segment, the B-52 NATO 01 was also refueled by a Turkish Air Force KC-135 tanker:

Noteworthy, the BUFF NATO 01 was also escorted by the Russians, as it was intercepted by Russian Air Force Su-27 Flankers over the Black Sea (an intercept that the U.S. DoD defined “unsafe and unprofessional”, as happened several times in the past):

Here are some of the images released by the various NATO members. Unfortunately, not all nations and air forces did take aerial shots, but some made an outstanding job!

Belgium:

Czech Republic:

Croatia:

 

RAF on BAP (Baltic Air Policing mission):

Romania:

Poland:

Greece:

Over Canada, the two B-52s launched from Minot AFB as NATO 05 and 06, were escorted by RCAF CF-188s.

Here are the radio comms of the B-52 over Belgium with F-16 escort:

Although such missions are “long-planned and not in response to any current political events occurring in Europe”, Allied Sky and the symbolic flyover of the NATO capitals sent a clear message of unity to potential adversaries and proved U.S. ability to launch strategic mission from both CONUS and Europe.

BTW, as the U.S. bombers made their tour of NATO countries, the Russian Aerospace Forces also carried out drills, including Tu-142 missions in the Alaskan ADIZ, which caused the intercept by the U.S. F-22s under NORAD command:

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About David Cenciotti 4139 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.