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US Air Force B-52 bombers train with Norwegian and Swedish forces for Bomber Task Force deployment

Christopher Wood

August 18th, 2022

Business Insider

Swedish JAS 39 Gripens with a Norwegian F-35 and a US B-52 over Andøya in northern Norway, August 18, 2022.

Four US Air Force B-52 bombers arrived in the UK on Thursday for a Bomber Task Force deployment. During their flight to the UK, the bombers trained with the Norwegian and Swedish fighter jets. The drills come amid heightened tensions in Europe and as NATO increases its focus on the high North.

The exercise yielded first-of-their-kind photos of the countries training together, reflecting an already close military relationship that is growing closer as Sweden moves to join NATO and the alliance increases its focus on the high north.

While flying from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to the UK, the four B-52H bombers — accompanied by support equipment and airmen — were joined by two Swedish JAS Gripen fighter jets and two Norwegian F-35s west of Andøya in northern Norway, the Norwegian military said.

Sweden's participation on Thursday "is vital" and its NATO membership "will give us increased joint combat power," said Maj. Gen. Rolf Folland, chief of the Norwegian air force. "The air dimension is unique in military operations. Air control has great advantages and gives land and sea forces the prerequisites for success."

Norway's air force is already looking into setting up "a joint Nordic air operations center," which would support planning and "significantly strengthen our collective defence," Folland added.

US bombers have been more active over the Artic

In early 2021, B-1Bs deployed to central Norway and operated from Norwegian soil for the first time. In September last year, B-2s deployed to Iceland for the first time, operating from what is seen as a valuable outpost in the North Atlantic. B-52s also make regular flights over the Arctic, often during Bomber Task Force deployments.

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