Saturday, January 16, 2021

Snag Hit US’ B-52 Bombers Get Greek & Turkish Air Force Together During NATO Mission

Two US’ B-52 Stratofortress long-range bombers conducted a one-day mission in Europe, taking off from Minot Air Force Base on December 3rd, bearing callsigns CAKE11-14, which could even be tracked online.

Out of the four BUFFs, only two of them crossed the Atlantic Ocean to carry out the mission. One of them set its course for the Barents Sea, where it made contact with allied Norwegian F-16s and JTACs (Joint Terminal Air Controllers), and the other B-52 changed its radio callsign from CAKE13 to CAKE11, flew towards the Mediterranean and conducted aerial refueling over the Tyrrhenian Sea.

It went SouthEast and was supposed to conduct missions over Greece and Turkey – however it developed an engine snag when it was over Southern Italy.

The failure happened in one of its eight engines, which, nevertheless, kept the aircraft in flight and the bomber (airframe #61-0001) turned towards the United Kingdom and burned fuel in a holding pattern for about 3 hours, before declaring an emergency for one engine out, and successfully landing at RAF Fairford.

The B-52 can even be in flight with just two out of eight engines running and is one of many versatile features that make the aircraft one of the longest-serving types in the US inventory. In case of a major failure, it could have landed at a nearby NATO airfield or in Spain.

The other B-52 which was on its course to Norway conducted joint training with NATO forces, “enhancing the interoperability and NATO forces’ ability to fight side by side in the air and on the ground in Norwegian conditions”.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force took splendid images of the B-52 strategic bombers upon interception by their F-16s in the early morning.

According to the Aviationist, it is also interesting that one of the B-52s integrated with Greek F-16s, and was supported by a Turkish Air Force KC-135 tanker.

However, the narrative is not supported by flight tracking data. “While we have asked for some official explanation, it appears likely that the official press releases were prepared before the mission was actually flown and were not fixed to reflect the fact that one of the BUFFs had to redirect before achieving its designed mission,” it said.

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