A bomber task force of four B-52 Stratofortresses and about 350 airmen began a deployment to RAF Fairford in England Thursday.

The B-52s, from the 2nd Bomb Wing, left their home base of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana that morning, Air Force Global Strike Command said in a release.

The aircrews will conduct integration and interoperability training with European allies and partners in the region during their deployment, the Air Force said. It will also allow Global Strike to practice how it conducts bomber operations from a forward operating location, the release said.

By training with their counterparts in allied or partner militaries, the airmen in the task force become familiar with how operations are carried out in different parts of the world, the release said.

Global Strike Command said it would not discuss details of future operations for security reasons. In an email, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said that the bombers will be deployed until their missions conclude, but did not say how long that might be.

B-52s were last at Fairford in April, when a task force of six Stratofortresses from Barksdale’s 2nd BW concluded a months-long deployment. It was the largest deployment of a single bomber platform since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003.

B-52s from Barksdale also deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in May to fly deterrence missions against Iran.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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