Tuesday, September 27, 2022

American B-52 Bombers, Escorted By SAAB Gripens, F-35 Stealth Fighters ‘Drop Bombs’ At Russia’s Doorsteps

The United States recently dispatched four nuclear-capable B-52 Bombers to Europe, at Russia’s ‘doorstep.’ The bombers have reportedly practiced dropping bombs not too far from Russia, which could send alarm bells ringing in Moscow.

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American B-52 strategic bombers, some of which could have brought nuclear weapons to Europe, staged strikes in the Arctic region, only 400 kilometers from the Russian border, local Russian media reported.

EurAsian Times had recently reported that four American B-52s left the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota for Fairford Air Force base in the UK.

On August 18, the bombers joined two Swedish JAS Gripen and two Norwegian F-35 fighter aircraft west of Andøya, North Norway, for Bomber Task Force drills.

The B-52H Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber can fly at high subsonic speeds at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters). It can carry nuclear or precision-guided conventional ordnance with top-class precision navigation capability.

The B-52s were escorted by Swedish JAS 39 Gripen aircraft over the Swedish airspace, followed by bombing the targets that the Swedish ground forces had picked out in the terrain on the Vidsel firing range, according to the Swedish Armed Forces Forsvarsmakten. The American bombers dropped three GBU-32 bombs.

B-52 Bomber
File Image: B-52 Bomber

“Witnessing our nation’s JAS Gripen fighter aircraft flying alongside several of America’s most powerful military aircraft visually depicts the strength and solidarity of NATO,” said Major General Carl-Johan Edström, Commander of the Swedish Air Force.

The exercise also included the Norwegian fighters with one of the B-52s training with the Norwegian Army at the Setermoen firing range. The US routinely conducts BTF drills with Norway, with the last edition in February when British and Norwegian F-35s worked out air-to-air maneuvers with US B-52s.

It is known that American strategic bombers did not approach Russian borders. The BTF drills, however, indicate that Russia will continue to strengthen its defenses in the western and northern regions, said the local Russian media.

The B-52-led drills with Sweden are significant as the latter is becoming a member of NATO. With Sweden and Finland joining NATO, the Nordic nations will have about 250 modern combat aircraft.

According to Norwegian Armed Forces Forsvaret, the possibility of establishing a joint Nordic air operations center is already being investigated by the Norwegian Air Force.

This will enable effective planning and aerial operations throughout the area. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has deeply unsettled the otherwise neutral Nordic states.

Bomber Task Force Mission To Deter Russia

So far, the B-52s from Minot have visited RAF Fairford twice this year for a bomber task force mission. Four aircraft arrived in Europe in February. Before that, in November 2021, B-1B bombers from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas were deployed to RAF Fairford.

Before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the US Air Force dispatched B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in February of this year to participate in a meticulously planned Bomber Task Force mission. The bomber crews were engaged in integration missions at the time, landing in the Czech Republic to practice quick-turn sortie regeneration and theatre acclimatization.

Then in March, the bombers overflew countries surrounding the Black Sea and Central Europe to simulate close-air-support operations with ground forces. They also went to the Arctic to take part in the Noble Defender exercise run by NORAD, which was in support of the NATO-led Cold Response over Canada and Norway.

 

Even when the news of the Bomber deployment to Fairford Air Force Base in the UK broke out a few days ago, the US Air Force did not specify that the bombers were being dispatched to Europe for BTF drills in the eastern flank of NATO, let alone to Sweden and Norway.

The Bomber flights are regular over Europe and the Pacific. The Barents Sea to the north of Russia, the Sea of Okhotsk off the coast of Far East Russia, and the Black Sea close to Crimea are among the critical areas that US bombers have been flying over more frequently in recent times.

However, the BTF mission being carried out when Russia is fighting a bloody war in Ukraine is significant. Russia takes a strict exception against NATO’s eastward expansion closer to its borders, with Sweden and Finland being a no-go zone.

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