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Minot AFB B-52s return from Bomber Task Force Europe

Five B-52H Stratofortresses aircraft assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing returned to Minot Air Force Base, from RAF Fairford, England, last week after the conclusion of Bomber Task Force 20-4, shown in this photo by Airman 1st Class Jan Valle. Submitted Photo

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE – B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers and airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base operating out of RAF Fairford, England, returned home last week, according to Air Force information.

For the last five weeks, airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing, aircraft and equipment conducted theater and flight training across Europe and Africa to test their ability to adapt to and operate from a forward operating location.

The B-52 aircraft flew 57 missions with 100 partner aircraft, alongside allies and partners from 30 different countries. They conducted integration and interoperability missions over the North, Barents, Black, Norwegian, and Mediterranean Seas, and in the Baltic region.

The rotation also included coordination with the 501st Combat Support Wing, RAF Alconbury, England, as well as integration with RAF Lakenheath aircraft, aerial refueling from RAF Mildenhall, and training with the U.S. Navy USS Roosevelt.

Operations and engagements with allies and partners serve as cornerstones highlighting U.S. European and U.S. Africa Command’s commitment to global security and stability. These missions also serve as a reminder that, despite ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, U.S. forces remain ready to execute their missions across all domains while enhancing interoperability alongside our allies and partners.

“Every BTF (Bomber Task Force) gives us opportunities to generate sorties in a unique environment to support US objectives and to strengthen our relationship with NATO allies, but COVID-19 restrictions created additional challenges not normally experienced during a typical BTF that our team overcame,” said Capt. Dom Scaletti, 5th Bomb Wing Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “Coordinating for logistic support and aircraft parts at a foreign operating location was another of the challenges we faced to maintain 100 percent mission completion.”

Despite these challenges, the eyes of the world continue to watch as airmen from the 23rd Bomb Squadron completed every mission of BTF 20-4 with countless integrations from all NATO Allies and partners including the first rendition of Allied Sky on Aug. 29.

“The importance of being out here right now proves we are able to operate in spite of COVID-19 and assures everyone of our ability to project this airpower,” said Lt. Col. Michael Middents, 23rd Bomb Squadron commander “We aren’t just going to be here for our allies, we are here for our allies.”

These training missions enabled us to build on our enduring relationships necessary to confront the broad range of global challenges.

“This is a capability we are able to provide to our allies and that the adversaries can not compete with,” said Middents.

“U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa must stay strategically predictable yet operationally unpredictable,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Forces in Africa. “These missions demonstrate we have global reach and can hold any target at risk.”

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