RAF Typhoons with B-52s from the US Bomber Task Force (Picture: RAF).
Aircraft

RAF fighters welcome US B-52 bombers back to Europe as Russia tensions build

The American Bomber Task Force was joined by Typhoons ahead of joint training missions.

RAF Typhoons with B-52s from the US Bomber Task Force (Picture: RAF).

British Typhoon fighter jets have met US Air Force B-52s in the skies above RAF Fairford, welcoming the Bomber Task Force back to Europe ahead of joint exercises.

American 'Stratofortress' strategic bombers, personnel and equipment from 69th Bomber Squadron arrived from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota on Thursday.

Planned interoperability training between the NATO allies has taken place since 2018; the latest iteration coming as Ukraine wrestles with the prospect of a Russian invasion.

The RAF says the Bomber Task Force arrival isn't linked to the tensions on the Ukraine border, while Russia says it has no plans for an offensive despite an estimated 130,000-strong build-up near the Ukrainian border.

B-52s could easily reach both Moscow and Tehran from the Gloucester-based RAF Fairford, the US using the Cotswolds location as a forward operating base in Europe.

During the Task Force's transatlantic journey, the bombers conducted training with UK Joint Terminal Attack Controllers responsible for co-ordinating air strikes to support ground forces.

Air Vice-Marshal Phil Robinson, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group, said: "The Bomber Task Force missions allow UK/US to challenge each other toward continuous growth and development as part of NATO and supporting the NATO Air Policing mission.

"The joint missions reinforce the commitment of both nations to NATO and collective defence, the most recent sortie providing a demonstration of the critical ability for a timely and co-ordinated response to defending the Euro-Atlantic area and, if required, the ability to reach forward locations."

Flying since the 1950s, B-52s can hit 1,000km per hour and fly for 8,800 miles without refuelling.

They can hit subsonic speeds up to 50,000ft (15,166m), carrying nuclear or precision-guided conventional weapons, as well as gravity or cluster bombs.