The Drive – War Zone:
The flights serve as a major show of solidarity between the U.S. and its NATO partners, sending a message that is clearly aimed at Moscow.
In a dramatic demonstration of NATO airpower, six U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers, four in Europe and two in North America, have teamed up with other alliance aircraft to perform overflights of all 30 member nations on August 28, 2020.
The mission, dubbed Allied Sky, is being billed as an extension of the latest regular Bomber Task Force (BTF) deployment to Europe. Currently, six nuclear-capable B-52Hs from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota are operating out of RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. You can read more about this latest B-52 deployment to Europe in this recent piece of ours.
Since 2018, routine BTF deployments have taken place in the European theater of operations and involve regular coordination between USAF bombers, including B-1s and B-2s, as well as B-52s, and other aircraft — chiefly fighters and air-to-air refueling tankers — from allies and partners. They also provide an opportunity for bombers to train in the European environment alongside other forces on the ground and at sea.
According to a statement from U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), Allied Sky “is intended to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the U.S. and NATO allies.”
In order to cover all 30 NATO member nations, Allied Sky made use of two “teams” of aircraft. Four of the six B-52s deployed to RAF Fairford covered the European portion of the mission. For the North American leg of the mission, another pair of 5th Bomb Wing B-52s are operating from their home station of Minot AFB, for flights over the United States and Canada.