Washington, Mar 21 : The US Air Force recently deployed six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Europe for "theater integration and flying training" exercises with regional allies and NATO partners.
A bomber task force of B-52 Stratofortresses, airmen and support equipment from the 2nd Bomb Wing based out of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, arrived at RAF Fairford late last week and has been participating in various training missions across Europe, according to the service.
On Monday, four B-52s "conducted flights to several places in Europe, including to the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea/Estonia and the Mediterranean Sea/Greece," the Air Force said. The deployment is viewed as sending a strong message to Russia, which is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its military annexation of Crimea, reported CNN.
B-52 bombers from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and RAF Fairford have also conducted "simultaneous theater familiarization training in the Indo-Pacific and Europe" as bombers "flew north to an area east of the Kamchatka Peninsula," near Russia.
"Collectively, the flights from the Indo-Pacific and Europe demonstrated US commitment to allies and partners through the global employment of military forces," the Air Force said in a news release.
Weighing 185,000 pounds, the B-52 first entered service in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War, originally designed to serve as long-range, high-altitude intercontinental nuclear bombers that could strike deep into the Soviet Union. The newest B-52 entered service in 1962, and the 159-foot plane became a Cold War icon.
According to the Air Force's official fact sheet, each aircraft can carry up to 70,000 pounds of bombs, mines and missiles. Tensions between the US and Russia have steadily increased in recent months following Russia's seizure of Ukrainian ships and detention of Ukrainian sailors after a confrontation in the Kerch Strait in November.
Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said on Monday that "there is no military solution" through which Ukraine could reclaim Crimea.
During Trump's administration the US has increased its military presence in Europe.The US and Europe seek to counter Russia's actions in the region. UNI