U.S. Air Force B-2s trained with Royal Air Force F-35s Aug. 29, the first time foreign fifth-generation fighter jets have integrated with the U.S. stealth bombers.
Three B-2 bombers from the 509th Bomber Wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base, are part of a U.S. Strategic Command bomber task force and are forward deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, U.K., which is U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s forward operating base for bombers. They arrived in theater Aug. 27.
“We’re delighted that the USAF and [the] Bomber Task Force are here in the UK and that our F-35 Lightning pilots have the chance to fly alongside and train with the B-2 bomber crews," said Group Capt. Richard Yates, chief of staff at the UK Air Battle Staff, in an RAF news release. "This is the first time that any other country has done this.”
The training aims to improve the interoperability of the strategic bombers with the fifth-generation fighter aircraft of European allies and demonstrate U.S. commitment to deterring adversary aggression on the continent, according to an Air Force news release.
“Our Royal Air Force friends are integral to the 509th Bomb Wing mission," said Lt. Col. Rob Schoeneberg, Bomber Task Force commander, 393rd Expeditionary Squadron, in the Air Force news release. "The beauty of our partnerships is that we get to understand how they see the world.
"Working alongside international fifth-generation aircraft provides unique training opportunities for us, bolsters our integration capabilities and showcases the commitment we have to our NATO alliance.”
Prior to the training in England, a B-2 from the task force flew from RAF Fairford to Keflavik Air Base, Iceland. The Aug. 28 mission involved hot-pit refueling at Keflavik AB. The purpose of the flight was to conduct theater familiarization for aircrew members and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners.