B-1B World Tour: U.S. Air Force Bombers Fly Over Sweden For First Time

B-1B World Tour: U.S. Air Force Bombers Fly Over Sweden For First Time
U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, fly in formation with Swedish Armed Forces Gripens during a Bomber Task Force Europe mission over Sweden, May 20, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nuñez)

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces has announced on Wednesday that two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, fly over Sweden for first-time.

The service said B-1s have flown over Sweden to integrate with Swedish Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets while conducting close-air-support training with Swedish Joint Terminal Attack Controller ground teams at Vidsel Range.

on May 20, conducted in accordance with the standard format for this king of strategic BTF mission, saw two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, fly over Sweden for the first time: the BONEs were intercepted and escorted by Swedish Gripens and conducted a CAS (Close Air Support) training with Swedish Joint Terminal Attack Controller ground teams at Vidsel Range.

During the flight, the B-1s were escorted by RAF Typhoons over the United Kingdom and “integrated” (a term that more or less means just that they were intercepted and flew together for some time) with Norwegian F-35As out of Ørland Air Station, Norway, where the B-1s performed also a low approach.

B-1B World Tour: U.S. Air Force Bombers Fly Over Sweden For First Time
Two B1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, integrated with four Swedish Armed Forces Gripens for the first time over Sweden during a long range, long duration Bomber Task Force mission May 20, 2020. (Courtesy photo by the Swedish Armed Forces)

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, and the Dutch KDC-10 from the 334th Squadron, RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands, supported the B-1s as well as the accompanying aircraft.

“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,” said U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, Gen. Jeff Harrigian, in an U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa release. “This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking groundbreaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations.”

The B-1B bomber is one of the three types of US strategic bombers. The two others are the B-2 stealth aircraft and the B-52.

Norwegian F-35s were flying together with the B-2 in March this year in Icelandic airspace and over the North-Atlantic. Last November, Norwegian F-16s followed three U.S. B-52 bombers all north to the Barents Sea.

The Norwegian military says such joint flight missions are of high priority.

“Today we have conducted complex flight operations with advanced systems, both on the ground and in the air,” says Lieutenant Colonel Ståle Nymoen. He is the commander of the 332 squadron which operates the F-35s from Ørland airbase.

In Sweden, the exercise included refueling of the Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets from an American KC-135 tanker.

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