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The Air Force Sent A ‘Fleet’ Of B-2 Bombers To Russia’s ‘Military Backyard’

After being grounded as a part of a six-month safety pause that ended in May, this week three Northrop B-2 Spirit bombers from the 509 Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri, took part in the first overseas deployment – landing in Keflavik, Iceland on Sunday.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit "Stealth" bomber, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies over the Pacific Ocean after a recent aerial refueling mission, May 2, 2005. The Bombers are deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a rotation that has provided the U.S. Pacific Command a continous bomber presence in the Asian Pacific region since February 2004, enhancing regional security and the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo) (Released)
A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit “Stealth” bomber, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies over the Pacific Ocean after a recent aerial refueling mission, May 2, 2005. The Bombers are deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a rotation that has provided the U.S. Pacific Command a continous bomber presence in the Asian Pacific region since February 2004, enhancing regional security and the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo) (Released)

After being grounded as a part of a six-month safety pause that ended in May, this week three Northrop B-2 Spirit bombers from the 509 Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri, took part in the first overseas deployment – landing in Keflavik, Iceland on Sunday.

B-2 Bombers Closer to Russia and Ukraine War

The United States Air Force’s B-2 fleet spent nearly the first half of 2023 on the ground after one of the aircraft was damaged following an emergency landing at Whiteman in December.

It experienced an in-flight malfunction and was forced to carry out a successful emergency landing on the base’s only runway.

A fire erupted aboard the stealth bomber after landing. It caused damage to the airframe to the tune of at least $10.1 million, and that aircraft could be out of service for at least two years while it undergoes repairs.

The U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command ordered a fleet inspection following the incident, which occurred a little more than one year after another B-2A suffered another landing mishap at Whiteman AFB.

The U.S. Air Force has a total of just twenty B-2 Spirits.

The Spirit (Back) in the Sky

More than 150 airmen joined the three bombers to take part in the Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission, a vital component of U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) collaborative training efforts with Allies, partners, and U.S. joint forces. The missions allow U.S. Strategic Command to showcase the United States’ commitment to collective defense while also seamlessly integrating with operations conducted by America’s Geographic Combatant Commands.

This BTF initiative was designed to bolster USEUCOM’s overarching security mandates across the European continent, while also allowing aircrews to acclimate themselves to the intricacies of joint and coalition operations in foreign locations.

“Each bomber task force mission underscores the prowess of our armed forces in navigating today’s intricate and unpredictable global security terrain, with a focus on fostering stability, security, and freedom across Europe,” said Gen. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe; U.S. Air Forces Africa and NATO Allied Command. “In resolute unity, the U.S. upholds our nation’s commitment to foster peace and stability in Europe, unwaveringly collaborating with Allies and partners to thwart challenges against the sovereignty of nations across the region”

Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, the commander of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, further underscored the essence of dynamic force employment, describing it as a strategy that combines strategic unpredictability with operational adaptability.

“The B-2 bomber is arguably the most strategically significant airplane in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s inflexible; dynamically deploying the bombers forward is a unique and important capability,” Kousgaard explained.

The planned duration of the deployment of the B-2 Spirit bombers to Iceland was not disclosed, but Air & Space Forces magazine reported that BTFs typically last two to six weeks. The Air Force’s B-2 last operated from the Icelandic base in September 2021 for a nearly three-week-long deployment.

The most recent BTF rotation to Europe was a contingent of B-1B bombers from the 7th Bomb Wing of Dyess AFB, Texas, which operated from RAF Fairford, U.K., from late May until late June.

Surely Russian President Putin is watching very closely.