RAF FAIRFORD, United Kingdom --- After flying numerous sorties, multiple airshows and missions with NATO allies, two B-52H Stratofortresses headed home to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, June 23.
The bombers were deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, along with approximately 250 personnel from Air Force Global Strike Command for the month of June in support of multinational exercises BALTOPS 16 and Saber Strike 16.
“We had several goals for BALTOPS and Saber Strike, I’d most definitely say we achieved all of them,” said Col. Kieran Denehan, 5th Expeditionary Operations Groups commander. “Training was the first goal for all of us here. We were able to successfully integrate with our allies over here in the Baltic region. The chance to train, fly and integrate with them has been an extremely valuable experience.”
During their time at Fairford, the aircrew flew 25 sorties throughout countries such as Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, France, Germany and Italy. Five of those sorties included participation in airshows around Europe, such as in Paris and Berlin.
“When you think of the full contingence of missions that we had to do during BALTOPS and Saber Strike, the B-52 is one of the perfect platforms because of the variety of different exercises it can do,” Denehan said. “We can fulfill so many different roles that we fit into multiple aspects of these exercises.”
In addition to the aircraft, Airmen also demonstrated the same versatility in their work. To fly a single sortie it takes hundreds of people. Denehan attributes the teamwork from each unit for the seamless execution of every mission.
“The overall performance of the 5th Expeditionary Operations Group has been nothing short of outstanding,” Denehan said. “The operations tempo was high, the airfield was constantly adapting, yet every Airman executed their role exceptionally and professionally. This is my last deployment as a commander and I can just drop the mic and walk away because it was so fantastic.”
Now that the exercises are over, Airmen are packing their bags and heading back to their home stations, grateful to have had the opportunity to showcase our strategic bomber to our NATO partners for a third year in a row.
“The B-52 is a great sign of America’s presence for assuring allies and deterring potential enemies,” the commander said. “It was an honor to be invited to participate in this exercise, and we thank our allies for having us.”