As part of a large American exercise in Europe, six US Air Force nuclear-capable strategic bombers are training along with Norwegian fighters. Both Norwegian F-16AM Fightning Falcons and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from Royal Norwegian Air Force are participating.
As we report two days ago, on saturday 22 August 2020, US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers arrived at Fairford, England. The bombers from the 5th Bomb Wing, based at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, will train in Europe over a longer period. This is an important training arena for Norway that will strengthen the cooperation between NATO countries.
“I am very pleased that our American friends choose to practice in our surroundings. It is important that they are familiar with Norwegian conditions and can operate together with us if necessary“, says Norwegian Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen. The first training mission was conducted with F-16 Fightning Falcons.
The exercise is crucial for every part of air operations. It is a test of Norway’s ability to coordinate operations across NATO’s area of operation. During the actual mission, Norway’s Air Force will train its entire chain – from control and surveillance to its ground personnel and aircraft. It is important that everyone is familiar with the different bases, airspace, and the different operation patterns, to build expertise and confidence among the people that carry out the missions.
This was the fourth time this year that Norwegian fighters conduct training flights with US strategic bombers. On June 3, 2020 four 5th Bomb Wing B-52H Stratofortresses strategic bombers conducted a long-range strategic mission to Europe and the Arctic. The flight involved missions on the Arctic Ocean and the Laptev Sea. Also in this case the US bombers have trained with Norwegian F-16s and F-35s.
The exercise focuses on the cooperation across NATO countries and partner nations. This type of cooperation strengthens NATO countries’ ability to operate – but even more important, it strengthens our ability to work together during times of conflict and crisis.
The strategic bomber missions, which have been occurring since 2018, provide theater familiarization for aircrew members and opportunities for U.S. integration with NATO allies and regional partners. The bomber missions enhance readiness and provide the training necessary and respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe. There have been more than 200 successful flight sorties coordinated with allies and partners since the Bomber Task Force missions began.
Photo credits: Royal Norwegian Air Force – Luftforsvaret