The U.S. has sent nuclear-capable Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the United Kingdom for strategic missions in Europe.
A "Bomber Task Force" arrived at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford on Thursday from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa (USAFE) said in a press release.
"The deployment also includes joint and allied training in the U.S. European Command theater to improve bomber interoperability. Training with joint partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges," the statement read.
According to Gloucestershire Live, two B-52s arrived at RAF Fairford on Thursday with more expected Friday.
Up to six B-52s are expected to arrive before the weekend, a source told Military.com.
The arrival of the B-52s comes ahead of NATO-GEO EX 19, a NATO-Georgia joint multinational brigade-level computer-assisted command post exercise, though it is unclear whether the B-52s will be involved.
B52 bomber heading to RAF Fairford after carrying out a mock attack against the Russian Baltic Sea fleet base pic.twitter.com/mlNgg9E4vj— Peter Harley (@PeterHarley20) March 15, 2019
NATO said the aim of the exercise, which begins on Monday, “is to improve interoperability between NATO and Georgia and educate the Georgian armed forces about NATO standards for collective training and exercise”.
Deployment of the B-52s to the English countryside comes at a time when Moscow is increasing its hypersonic missile stockpile and has recently sent its fifth-generation stealth fighters into series production.
RAF Fairford has previously hosted an array of American bombers, triggering massive demonstrations by anti-war protesters.
USAFE didn't disclose how long the bombers will remain at RAF Fairford.
The B-52 is the oldest airframe in the Air Force. The bombers have been in every conflict since the Vietnam War. B-52s have been heavily modified over the years for low-level flight, conventional bombing, extended-range flights, and transport of offensive equipment. The plane can even launch hypersonic missiles.