US European Command announced that the Air Force is sending a squadron of B-1 strategic bombers and 200 troops to Norway to conduct training flights in the region amid increasing focus on the Arctic.
The command did not give a specific date for the start of the exercise, saying only that it will take place “in the coming weeks” and “will be conducted for a limited time.”
NATO-member Norway shares a border with Russia, and Moscow’s military modernization on the Kola Peninsula has helped turn the region into a potential hot spot.
“Operational readiness and our ability to support allies and partners and to respond quickly are critical to our overall success,” said General Jeff Harrigian, Commander of the US Air Force Europe and Africa. “We value the strong partnership with Norway and look forward to future opportunities to strengthen our collective defense.”
In the statement of the command, there is no information about how long the Air Force contingent will be in Norway, nor about what equipment it will bring.
According to the military newspaper Defense News, the B-1 Lancer is a conventional bomber since its nuclear capabilities were eliminated in the mid-1990s.
“While the details of specific missions or the number of activities are not discussed within normal operational security standards, the US Air Force in Europe is regularly deploying various American aircraft and units in the region to support European Command objectives,” the statement said.
In September last year, during a 16-hour training flight from Eilson Air Force Base in Alaska, B-1B Lancers covered 6,100 nautical miles over the North Pole. During the flight, refueling was made in the air over the Arctic Ocean, after which joint exercises with Norwegian forces were conducted off the coast of Greenland for “several hours”, Defense News recalls.