Wednesday, October 4, 2023

USAF Bomber Task Force deploys to Europe to bolster readiness

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By Guido Lanfranchi.

The U.S. Air Force has temporarily deployed B-2 strategic stealth bombers to RAF Fairford, England. The bombers have been testing synergies with both 5thand 4thgeneration aircraft, including with partner F-35s, to bolster the readiness of U.S. and NATO forces in the region.

For the second time this year, the United States Air Force’s Bomber Task Force has deployed its aircraft in Europe.

After the deployment of six B-52 bombers in March 2019, in September it has been the turn of the B-2 strategic stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing of Whiteman Air Force Base, which are now deployed to the Royal Air Force Base in Fairford, England.

The aim of this deployment is to work on the readiness of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe – Lieutenant General Steven Basham, Deputy Commander of U.S. Air Force in Europe and Africa, explained. During the time of the deployment, the U.S. bombers are set to practice their operations in the European theater, experiencing its facilities, its airspace, and the cooperation with crucial allies such as the RAF – Lt. Gen. Basham explained, thanking the United Kingdom for hosting the aircrafts. 

During the time of the deployment, the B-2 is set to practice its interoperability capabilities, including with both 4thand 5thgeneration aircraft, not only from the U.S. Air Force, but also from allied forces such as the RAF. The current deployment proves to U.S. allies and to the world that these aircraft are able to operate together and from multiple foreign locations, covering a wide theater and creating important synergies – Lt. Gen. Basham noted. 

According to the Deputy Commander of USAFE, this show of force is meant to have a deterrent effect against potential adversaries and, in the unfortunate case deterrence would fail, such operations demonstrate that U.S. forces can deploy quickly and effectively to protect U.S. allies. “I’m very confident of our readiness level and it continues to improve every single day” – Lt. Gen. Basham proudly claimed. 

In the context of the longstanding transatlantic alliance, this deployment should also be seen as an important demonstration of the U.S. commitment to its allies and partners in the region, as stressed by Colonel Kurt Wendt, Commander of the 501stSupport Air Wing, and Lt. Colonel Robert Shoeneberg, Commander of the 393rdBomb Squadron – both currently deployed in Fairford in the context of the B-2 deployment. 

This commitment seems set to continue for the foreseeable future and, in the words of Lt. Gen. Basham, this kind of deployments could be seen “more often than less” in the future. 

About the author:

Guido Lanfranchi is a student and young professional in the field of international affairs. He has pursued his studies both at Leiden University and Sciences Po Paris, where he is currently enrolled. In parallel, he has been gaining professional experience through internships (first at the Council of the European Union, and currently at Clingendael Institute), as well as by working as reporter and associate editor for Diplomat Magazine The Netherlands. His research and work focus on the Middle East and Africa, and especially on conflict situations in these regions.

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