U.S. long-range strategic bombers are taking part in a mission on Memorial Day over all 30 NATO nations in Europe and North America, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa (USAFE) said in a statement on Monday, Stars and Stripes reported.
The B-52H Stratofortress aircraft, which were deployed to Moron Air Base in Spain, were flying with planes from more than 20 allies in a mission called "Operation Allied Sky," according to the statement
"Today’s mission is an awesome demonstration of NATO air superiority," said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, NATO Allied Air Command and USAFE-AFAFRICA commander.
There has been increased concern among NATO allies over the military resurgence of Russia, including the Kremlin’s deployment last month of thousands of troops to the border area along Ukraine.
To counter the general threat from Russia in recent years, U.S. bombers deployed to Europe have participated in more than 200 sorties with allies and partners since 2018, mainly to serve as a deterrent to Moscow.
For this mission, the U.S. Air Force’s eight-engine bombers, based out of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, arrived in Spain two weeks ago. Four B-52s from the 2nd Bomb Wing and more than 200 personnel deployed on a short-notice tasker, according to Air Force Maj. Marisa King, 96th Bomber Task Force director of operations.
The long-range heavy bombers were set to carry out aerial refueling and integration flights with the aircraft of several allies over Europe, from Turkey to Norway on Memorial Day.
KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft based at RAF Mildenhall in England were expected to offer support for the mission.
Part of the mission includes a North American leg over the U.S. and Canada, according to Stars and Stripes.
The last time American bombers carried out an overflight of all 30 NATO allies was in August. That mission involved six B-52s out of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and were escorted by some 80 fighter jets at various stages.
The Barksdale-based bombers recently held simulated target training in the Black Sea region with Hungarian Gripens, Italian Eurofighters, and F-16s from Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria, Stars and Stripes reported.
Following that exercise, the bombers flew with RAF Eurofighter Typhoons and Hellenic F-16s over the east Mediterranean Sea before participating in counter-maritime exercises with P-8A Poseidon aircraft from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa’s Patrol Squadron 40.
"Bomber missions demonstrate the credibility of our forces to address a global security environment that is more diverse and uncertain than at any other time in our history," Harrigian said.
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