Aircraft

American B-52s End Month-Long Deployment At RAF Fairford

The B-52 Stratofortress aircraft are returning home to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana after their deployment.

The month-long deployment of American B-52s at RAF Fairford has ended.

The 2nd Bomb Wing is returning home to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Four American B-52 bombers landed at RAF Fairford last month.

More than 300 personnel from the 2nd Bomb Wing have been at the UK RAF base since.

"The team arrived on 10 October with four B-52s, and in that time we've flown 32 sorties, we've integrated with 13 of our partner and allied nations here [in Europe]," said Lieutenant Colonel John Baker, Commander 96th Bomb Squadron.

"That integration... actually being here, talking to our allies on their ranges makes us more lethal."

US B52 crew at RAF Fairford 081119 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
2nd Bomb Wing will head back to the US in the coming days.

The B-52 bomber entered into service in 1955 and is expected to be in use until the 2050s.

At almost 50m long, more than 12m high and with eight engines, the B-52 is capable of flying at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet.

The aircraft can also drop a wide range of weapons, including nuclear, gravity and cluster bombs, as well as precision-guided missiles.

"The rotary launcher started out originally as a way of getting a new variety of cruise missiles into the bay," said Captain "Torque" Moran.

"However, over the years it was adapted to different weapons types."

Wing of US B52 at RAF Fairford 081119 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The home of the American B-52 aircraft is Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Over recent years the B-52 has featured in many major conflicts.

Late last month a wing-tip gear door fell off one of the bombers during a flight, landing in a garden in Warwickshire.

Lieutenant General Steven Basham, Deputy Commander US Air Forces in Europe, said: "The B-52 doesn't know it's old.

"The aviators that fly this will tell you one thing: this aircraft is better than the day it came off the line. We continue to update the aircraft."

He added: "It is not the aircraft of 1960... we continue to put new weapons on the aircraft new capabilities."

Inside of US B52 081119 CREDIT US Dpt Defense.jpg
B-52 can carry a wide variety of weapons (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The B-52s can fly for 8,800 miles without refuelling, putting both Moscow and Tehran within easy reach of the bombers from RAF Fairford.

This begs the question of what kind of message this deployment sends to both of those countries.

Lieutenant General Steven Basham said: "We are hoping that everyone is watching."

"While we absolutely believe that peace is paramount... we are ready to fight at any given time."

Over the next few days, the B-52 bombers will head back to the United States.

B52 crew from US prepare to return home from RAF Fairford 081119 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The American B-52 deployment to RAF Fairford ended on Friday.