B-52s Drop Live Bombs On Swedish Range On Their Way To European Deployment

One of the B-52Hs landing at RAF Fairford on Aug. 18, 2022.

Four B-52 bombers have just deployed to Europe. Two took part in joint drills with Swedish and Norwegian forces over Scandinavia.

On Aug. 18, 2022, four U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers, belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing, from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, landed at RAF Fairford, for a BTF (Bomber Task Force) deployment.

Using radio callsigns, HYLA 11-14, the aircraft were supported by the ABBOT flight of three KC-135s from Pease Air National Guard Base, off the Eastern U.S. coast, before being met by four KC-135s from RAF Mildenhall operating under LAGER callsigns.

The B-52s arrived in the following order:

HYLA12 60-0023
HYLA11 60-0005
HYLA13 60-0034
HYLA14 60-0026

Our friend Ben Ramsay at UK Aviation Movies took the following amazing video of the BUFFs landing at Fairford.

Noteworthy, HYLA13, tail number #60-0034, nicknamed “Wise Guy”, is the second B-52H bomber to ever be regenerated to active service from the “Boneyard” at AMARG (the first one was the Stratofortress tail number 61-007, nicknamed “Ghost Rider,” regenerated at Tinker in 2015). After logging more than 17,000 flight hours, “Wise Guy” was first retired at the 309th AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, in 2008.

The aircraft was supposed to remain there to be cannibalized of parts needed by front-line BUFFs and never to fly again. But the plan changed more or less at 08.30AM LT on May 19, 2016, when a B-52H Stratofortress bomber belonging to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, crashed during take off from Andersen AFB, in Guam. Although the 7 people on board escaped safely from the aircraft, shortly thereafter, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center was asked to regenerate an aircraft from storage at AMARG to restore the fleet to the Congressional-mandated 76 aircraft.

And “Wise Guy” was selected to fill the vacancy, resurrected after 10 years at the “Boneyard” and returned to active service last year.

Interestingly, HYLA 13 and 14 took part in a joint mission with Swedish JAS 39 Gripens over Sweden, and Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A stealth jets over Norway on their way to RAF Fairford: during the joint exercise, for the first time, the U.S. B-52s dropped three live GBU-31 bombs over Vidsel range, at targets identified by the Swedish JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) on the ground.

Major General Carl-Johan Edström, commander of the Swedish Air Force said that “Exercises such as this contain several elements: from coordination, connection and escort in Swedish airspace until effective fire can be fired against enemy targets in Sweden. The exercise will be proof that the entire chain is working. […] The war in Ukraine has clearly shown how important it is to have the ability for long-range combat. The capability we have now practiced increases our defense capability considerably and is important not least in light of the Swedish application for membership in NATO.”

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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 five books and contributed to many more ones.