ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, United Kingdom (BAFB) - More than 450 personnel and six B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base deployed March 11-16 to RAF Fairford, England, in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe.
The deployment enables theater integration and training with USSTRATCOM joint partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units, further enhancing bomber interoperability in the theater.
“Overall, our airmen will become familiar with European airspace procedures, and enhance the skills and relationships key to operating in the European area of operations,” said Lt. Col. Mike Esposito, the task force’s commander.
Bomber Task Force missions have been conducted across the globe since April 2014.
However operationally, this rotation is the largest deployment of a single bomber platform since 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A news conference was held March 19 to communicate the task force’s mission at RAF Fairford with local and international media outlets. One of the speakers was Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.
“The task force will operate across the USAFE-AFAFRICA theater from the Arctic to the Sahara Desert, demonstrating how the U.S., with our allies and partners, can quickly amass at a time and location of our choosing to deter and defend against any possible aggression,” Harrigian said.
“Our robust, reliable, flexible, and survivable strategic capabilities remain an important contribution to security in current and future warfighting domains.”
This year also marks the 75th anniversary for the base. Even though the installation is older, it still provides the necessary amenities for current bomber missions.
“RAF Fairford provides tailored capabilities and facilities that make it an ideal platform to launch, recover and maintain B-52 airpower,” Esposito said.
This task force is a temporary deployment and the assets will remain at RAF Fairford until the missions conclude.
“The overwhelming support we receive from the [501st Combat Support] Wing, base and community is welcoming and helps us overcome the inherent challenges to sustain a Bomber Task Force,” Esposito said. “We are very excited to be here in England and look forward to having a successful bomber rotation for the U.S. European Command.”