Two B-1B Lancer bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota flew to the Nordic region of Europe Wednesday as part of a training mission with allies.
The flight marked the first time any B-1s have flown over Sweden, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said in a release Wednesday. The B-1s, from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth, trained with Swedish Gripen fighters and conducted close air support training with Swedish joint terminal attack controllers at Vidsel Range there.
The B-1s were also escorted by Typhoon fighters from the Royal Air Force as they flew over the United Kingdom. And they flew tactical sorties with Norwegian F-35s, and flew a low approach over Ørland Air Station, the home of Norway’s F-35 fleet.
“Long-range bomber training missions strengthen our steadfast partnerships with allies across both Europe and Africa and showcase our ability to respond globally from anywhere,” USAFE commander Gen. Jeff Harrigian said in the release. “This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking groundbreaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations.”
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, and a Dutch KDC-10 from the 334th Squadron at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands, refueled the B-1s so they could make the round trip from Ellsworth without stopping.
This is the latest in a series of long-range bomber task force missions carried out this month, including all three types of bombers in the Air Force’s fleet. For example, B-1s previously trained earlier in May with Danish and Polish F-16s and other fighters.
In some of the releases announcing long-range bomber flights, the Air Force has said they show the United States’ ability to conduct operations and support allies and partners is unaffected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the release on Wednesday’s mission did not reference the pandemic.
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.