Arctic Challenge 2023: Supersonic bombers soar over USS Gerald Ford

  • Published
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bombers executing Bomber Task Force 2023-3 joined NATO aircraft, June 5, during Arctic Challenge Exercise 2023 in a counter-maritime mission involving the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 in the High North.

As a first during Arctic Challenge, the two bombers from Dyess Air Force Base’s 9th Bomb Wing, were joined by U.S. Air Force and Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighters, U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18 Growler, and P-8A Poseidon aircraft, and Allied naval assets throughout the North Sea.

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy routinely conduct operations in the High North alongside the Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian Air and Naval Forces, and Arctic Challenge provided enhanced opportunities for NATO Allies and Partners to integrate with strategic U.S. bombers and the Ford-class aircraft carrier in a new environment.

The combined air, ground, and maritime mission follows a successful deployment of U.S. and coalition naval assets during Formidable Shield 2023, which highlighted Strike Force NATO’s ability to combine forces in the premier Integrated Air and Missile Defense exercise.

The strategic coordination between air and naval operations through exercises in the High North demonstrates the U.S.’s ability to integrate with global Allies and Partners and the inherent flexibility of U.S., Allied, and coalition forces to operate anywhere, anytime.

U.S. European Command, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy have developed strategies to address the dynamic Arctic environment to maintain operational and critical support capabilities.  These strategies include designing more opportunities to integrate with coalition forces throughout the High North and greater participation in exercises like Arctic Challenge, Bomber Task Force, and Formidable Shield.

Imagery of these exercises is publicly available through the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service at the following links.

For more information on U.S. forces participating in Arctic Challenge Exercise 2023, please contact U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Public Affairs via email at