On May 31, 2021 as part of Operation Allied Sky B-52 Stratofortress aircraft deployed to Morón Air Base, Spain, flew over all 30 NATO nations in a single day.
On May 31, 2021 as part of Operation Allied Sky B-52 Stratofortress aircraft deployed to Morón Air Base, Spain, flew over all 30 NATO nations in a single day, the second time in less than a year that US Air Force (USAF) bombers have flown this show of strength over the continent and North America.
Allied Sky is the latest iteration of routine Bomber Task Force (BTF) missions that have occurred in the European theater of operations since 2018, with more than 200 sorties coordinated with allies and partners.
According to a US European Command release, Allied Sky has been conducted in two parts:
- European Leg: B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft currently deployed to Morón Air Base Spain flew over all NATO nations in Europe. During the mission, the bombers completed aerial refueling and integrated with several ally aircraft.
- North American Leg: The stateside-based aircraft integrated with aircraft from the US and Canada while flying over both nations.
The large-force event has been supported by KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England. The 100th ARW is the only permanent USAF air refueling wing in Europe, extending the reach of US and NATO aircraft in Europe and beyond.
“Bomber missions demonstrate the credibility of our forces to address a global security environment that is more diverse and uncertain than at any other time in our history,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, NATO Allied Air Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. Harrigian added that this mission has been “an awesome demonstration of NATO air superiority and together there is no challenge we cannot tackle.”
NATO nations that took part in the mission and integrated with US aircraft included Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and the U.K.
A similar mission was conducted in August 2020 by six B-52s: four of them, deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, flew over all European member nations while two B-52s from Minot Air Force Base (AFB), North Dakota, flew over the US and Canada.
Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate US commitment to the collective defense of NATO and contribute to stability in the European theater.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez, 2nd Lt. Aileen Lauer, Staff Sgt. Jason Allred and Tech. Sgt. Jael Laborn