by Senior Airman Malia Jenkins
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
6/17/2015 - ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, England -- For
more than 50 years the B-52H Stratofortress has served as the backbone
of the United States' strategic bomber force. The B-52 is capable of
dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory,
including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and
joint direct attack munitions to complete its conventional mission.
Many might associate the B-52 with its nuclear role, but today the
aircraft and its crews are forward deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford,
England, to demonstrate the conventional capabilities the airframe
"Associating the B-52 mission with a conventional mission and dropping
conventional bombs is important, because it's a capability that we have
and are proficient in and train to all the time," said Capt. Jeffery
Shaw, 5th Bomb Wing weapons officer.
While at RAF Fairford, the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron used three
B-52Hs to drop inert munitions into a target zone in Latvia and off the
coast of Sweden, participate in simulated air strikes, provide naval
support to vessels from 15 countries, and coordinate with Latvian,
Polish and Lithuanian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.
In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, air
interdiction, offensive counter-air, close air support and maritime
"This is a pretty phenomenal opportunity because we're integrating the
B-52 on an international scale with NATO and Baltic nations," Shaw said.
"We have multiple fighter aircraft across this whole area that we're
doing close air support work with--Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish
JTACs...it's definitely a chance for the B-52 to showcase its
While participating in various training scenarios during BALTOPS 15 and
Saber Strike 15, air and ground crew members demonstrate the sustained
capabilities of the B-52 and its ability to provide a credible, flexible
and sustained bomber presence anywhere and anytime.
Shaw noted it's important the B-52s are participating in conventional
missions in the Baltics, while operating out of a forward deployed
location, projecting an expeditionary airpower. This means crew members
are able to reinforce their ability to operate from a forward deployed
location and employ the B-52 in a realistic close air support scenario.
Bomber operations provide a visible signal that highlights the United
States' ability to deter strategic attacks, and the flexibility and
range of the aircraft were seen during Operation Desert Storm, the Gulf
War, Operation Allied Force and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi
As seen in previous operations, the B-52 provides the ability to respond
to any potential crisis, future crisis or challenge and their
operations shall continue well into 2040.
The aircraft and support personnel deployed from Minot Air Force Base,
North Dakota, along with men and women from Whiteman AFB, Missouri; F.
E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Langley AFB, Virginia; Malmstrom, Montana; Navy
Munitions Command Unit Charleston, and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, to
support a planned B-2 and B-52 bomber deployment to England.