Three U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers arrived in Britain for a deployment to include training and bomber interoperability with European allies.
A Bomber Task Force deployment, from Whiteman AFB, Mo. — which includes the aircraft, as well as airmen and support equipment — arrived early Tuesday morning under the cover of darkness at the Royal Air Force base in Fairford, Gloucestershire.
A small crowd of civilian onlookers greeted the bat-winged planes as the arrived at RAF Fairford. The British base has specially-designed hangars for B-2 aircraft, as well as an exceptionally long runway, which the stealth bombers require.
Although little information regarding plans for the planes was given, or the amount of time they will spend in Europe, an Air Force statement on Tuesday said the deployment is for “theater integration and flying training.”
Among the integration work expected is for the B-2 to fly with the F-35s, which officials say is for both training and to show what the stealth aircraft can do when working together.
“The deployment also includes joint and allied training in Europe to improve bomber interoperability,” U.S. Air Force officials said in a statement. “Training with partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units contributes to our readiness and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.”
The arrival of the B-2s coincided with the end of a month-long NATO training exercise, involving 5,000 soldiers from 21 countries, centered in Hohenfels, Germany.