A flypast celebrated the 80th anniversary of the forming of the “Mighty” Eighth Air Force.
On Feb. 1, 2022, a B-1B Lancer (#86-0129) with the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota; 2x F-15E Strike Eagles (#91-0301 and #00-3004) from the 494th Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath, and an F-35B Lightning (ZM158/024) belonging to the RAF 207 Sqn from RAF Marham, accompanied by an RAF Hawk (XX191) camera ship, celebrated the 80th anniversary of the 8th Air Force.
Flying as OXRAY flight, the BONEs (as the B-1s are dubbed in the pilot community) undertook a roundtrip mission to the UK from their homebase in South Dakota. In the end, just one of the three Lancers (one was an air spare) completed the transatlantic crossing.
The only Lancer that crossed the Pond was supported by two KC-135 Stratotankers, LAGR902 (#59-1470) and LAGR903 (#59-1475), launched from RAF Mildenhall. The tankers met the bomber at waypoint AKIVO, South West of the Faroe Islands.
Tankers both sides of the Atlantic supporting the planned OXRAY Flt of x2 B-1s🤞at mid-day today over East Anglia UK to mark the 80th Anniversary of the 8th AF – updates as the day progresses #USAF #B1 pic.twitter.com/VxBRd3MXli
— Saint1 (@Saint1Mil) February 1, 2022
The B-1 flew with the rest of the “dissimilar formation” over the Imperial War Museum Duxford, the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial (a World War II American military war grave cemetery) at Madingley in Cambridgeshire, UK, as well as RAF Marham in Norfolk, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk.
This afternoon, two @usairforce B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth AFB, S.D. participated in a long-distance, roundtrip flight to the United Kingdom to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Eighth Air Force, Feb. 1, 2022.#StrongerTogether @NATO_AIRCOM @US_EUCOM @RoyalAirForce pic.twitter.com/ZtBmnwSxez
— USAFE-AFAFRICA (@HQUSAFEAFAF) February 1, 2022
The photos in this post were taken by our contributor Stewart Jack at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall.
VIII Bomber Command activated at Langley Field, Va, on Feb. 1, 1942, and moved to England under its parent unit Eighth Air Force. During WWII, using the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator, the unit carried out heavy bombardment missions across Europe.
Today, the Eighth Air Force is one of two active-duty Numbered Air Forces in Air Force Global Strike Command with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, that controls long-range conventional strike and nuclear-capable bomber assets worldwide, and commands the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) platform.
In other words, the 8th Air Force controls the B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers and the E-4B aircraft.