Historic bomber operations BALTOPS, Saber Strike conclude at RAF Fairford
By Senior Airman Curtis Beach, USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs
/ Published June 21, 2017
RAF FAIRFORD, United Kingdom -- Air Force Global Strike Command bomber operations in support of exercises Arctic Challenge, BALTOPS 17 and Saber Strike 17 out of RAF Fairford, U.K., concluded June 17.
Roughly 800 AFGSC Airmen and eight strategic bombers to include B-1B Lancers, B-2 Spirits and B-52H Stratofortresses deployed to RAF Fairford in support of bomber assurance and deterrence missions in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility throughout the month of June.
“Bringing together multiple bombers from across numerous organizations involving multiple MAJCOMs is no simple endeavor, however, this team made it seem easy,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jared Kennish, 322nd Air Expeditionary Group commander. “We were able to make this one of the most visible bomber deployments in the European theater in recent memory. This is another great milestone for the three bomber platforms of 8th Air Force and AFGSC.”
The deployment of strategic bombers to the United Kingdom helps exercise RAF Fairford as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s forward operating bomber location, while providing important integration and interaction with our UK allies.
The exercises fostered collaboration among more than 20 nations. This opportunity to work with regional allies and partners allows for synchronized and prepared responses to regional security threats and worldwide contingency operations.
“These deployments are necessary to ensure our readiness and validate the vigilance of global strike capability.” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander. “Together, our bombers, along with the bomber Airmen who maintain and operate them, offer a robust, lethal and reliable capability that remains a critical component of global security.”
U.S. Strategic Command bomber forces regularly conduct combined theater security cooperation engagements with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to command, control and conduct bomber missions across the globe.
Throughout the deployment, bombers amassed 40 sorties, while dropping more than 40 munitions including a mixture of mines, BDU-56s and BDU-50s.
“The ability to drop all planned munitions in a moment's notice from any forward deployed location further proves the U.S. resolve in working with our NATO partners and regional allies to deter any and all adversary aggression,” said Kennish. “It also exemplifies the great relationship with have with our regional partners. Nothing can replace the training opportunity to employ weapons with our international partners.”
Training with allied nations and joint partners improves coordination between nations and enables the U.S. Air Force to build enduring relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.
“This has been a great opportunity to see the big picture. We don’t always get to experience that while flying from our home stations,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Sarah Fortin, 2Oth Bomb Squadron instructor pilot, who piloted a B-52 during the deployment. “This provides our Airmen the opportunity to understand this big picture of interoperability. Just to think I’m a part of this, to be able to fly one moment in time in this aircraft’s long history, our nation’s history, it’s quite an honor.”