By Airman 1st Class Tessa Corrick, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, United Kingdom — More than 450 personnel and six B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base deployed to RAF Fairford, England, in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe, March 11 to 16, 2019.
The BTF 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, BTF commander.
BTF missions have been conducted across the globe since April 2014. However operationally, this BTF rotation is the largest deployment of a single bomber platform since 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On March 19, 2019, a press conference was held to communicate the BTF mission at RAF Fairford with local and international media outlets. One of the speakers was Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa deputy commander.
“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 BTF 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.”