B-2s Land in Iceland for First Bomber Job Drive in Months

Three B-2 bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Drive Base, Mo., landed in Keflavik, Iceland, on Aug. 13 to start a Bomber Job Drive deployment, the service introduced. The deployment marks the primary abroad look of the stealth bomber because the B-2 fleet’s six-month security pause ended this Might.

The deliberate period of the deployment was not disclosed, however BTFs sometimes final 2-6 weeks. Greater than 150 help Airmen and aircrew deployed alongside the bombers and can train with NATO and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) models within the area.

The B-2 is the Air Drive’s sole operational stealth bomber, with a globe-girdling vary, and the continued Bomber Job Drive rotations in Europe are seen as one component of NATO’s heightened stage of alert since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

The Spirit’s return to Europe comes after it spent the primary a part of 2023 on the bottom—the fleet stopped flying after one plane was broken following an emergency touchdown at Whiteman, however the Air Drive has not given the foundation reason for that accident nor defined why the “security pause” in operations was needed.

This isn’t the primary B-2 deployment to Keflavik. Three B-2s, with greater than 200 help personnel, operated from the Icelandic base in September 2021 for almost three weeks. On the time, Air Drive officers mentioned establishing Keflavik as a location from which B-2s might function added “one other strategic stepping stone” for U.S. bombers to the European theater. Throughout that deployment, the bombers practiced suppression of enemy air defenses and the employment of standoff missiles together with plane from different NATO nations.

The newest Bomber Job Drive rotation to Europe was a contingent of B-1B bombers from the seventh Bomb Wing of Dyess Air Drive Base, Texas, which operated from RAF Fairford, U.Okay., from late Might till late June. Throughout the monthlong go to, the B-1s participated in 4 U.S. and worldwide workouts, together with two Arctic drills; made an look on the Paris Air Present; and landed in Sweden, which is within the means of becoming a member of NATO, for the primary time.

World Strike Command additionally continues to conduct BTFs within the Pacific, having deployed B-52 contingents to Andersen Air Drive Base, Guam, in June and July and a package deal of B-1s to Misawa Air Base, Japan, in July.

The decreased variety of Airmen and help personnel accompanying the B-2s to Iceland throughout this deployment could also be an indication of the Air Drive’s ongoing effort to cut back its footprint when positioning forces away from house base. Beneath the Agile Fight Employment mannequin, USAF is striving to make deployments with as few personnel as attainable, usually to austere or distant airfields, to observe transferring shortly and complicating an adversary’s concentrating on.

Imagery of the B-2s arriving at Keflavik, launched by the Pentagon, additionally confirmed two C-5Ms of the 433rd Air Wing, which presumably introduced their help gear and personnel.

“Every bomber process pressure mission underscores the prowess of our armed forces in navigating right this moment’s intricate and unpredictable world safety terrain, with a concentrate on fostering stability, safety, and freedom throughout Europe,” mentioned Gen. James Hecker, commander of USAFE.

The Iceland BTF is led by Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, commander of 393rd Bomb Squadron. He mentioned BTFs reveal the Air Drive’s technique of strategic unpredictability with operational adaptability.

“The B-2 bomber is arguably probably the most strategically important airplane on the planet, however that doesn’t imply it’s rigid; dynamically deploying the bombers ahead is a novel and essential functionality,” Kousgaard mentioned.

He added that there’s “merely no substitute for the hands-on integration” with U.S. allies and companions within the area. The deployments assist familiarize USAF, Joint and allied forces within the area with the capabilities of U.S. bombers, he mentioned.

It was not disclosed whether or not the B-2s will function from any ahead areas in Europe, however BTFs usually embrace unannounced secondary deployments.

Iceland is a member of NATO however has no army forces and has over the previous six many years allowed NATO models to function from its airfields. The U.S. Air Drive maintained an interceptor functionality at Keflvik till the early 2000s. Subsequently the bottom has been reactivated for workouts and NATO air policing missions. B-2s had transited by Keflavik earlier than however by no means used it as an working location till 2021.