A Bomber Task Force deployment of B-2 Spirit stealth bomber aircraft have arrived at RAF Fairford for a deployment to conduct theatre integration and flying training.

The aircraft departed Lajes Field, Portugal, and conducted bombing training runs over Garvie Island (one of the main targets for live firing by the military in the UK, near Cape Wrath) before landing at RAF Fairford.

The deployment of strategic bombers to the UK helps exercise RAF Fairford as US Air Forces in Europe’s forward operating location for bombers, say the US Air Force.

“Operating bombers from forward locations enables collective defense capabilities and provides the U.S. and NATO the strategic and operational capacity needed to deter adversaries while assuring our allies and partners,” said Lt. Gen Steven Basham, Deputy Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa.

The deployment also includes joint and allied training in the US European Command theater to improve bomber interoperability.

“Integrating with our NATO allies and theater partner nations, as well as other U.S. Air Force and joint units, enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships while greatly enhancing global stability and security.”

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I’m glad the yanks are on our side 🇺🇸




when there’s something in it for them…with DT anyway


Are they….are you sure?


no, of course not. DT is right about one thing though, EU MUST take greater responsibility and yes I am referring to Idlib no fly zone!

Ian Skinner

When I saw this headline, my immediate thought was “how can they tell?”

Bloke down the pub

The bar takings went up.


I think we should buy a couple of squadrons of the B21 – would be very useful I am sure.

Levi Goldsteinberg

You should’ve said so before – I’ll be right back, just doubling the defence budget

Levi Goldsteinberg

Amazing piece of kit. Can’t wait to see what becomes of the B21 Raider


Are the American airforce definitely leaving Lakenheath..?

Nigel Collins

Looks like RAF Mildenhall is becoming redundant not RAF Lakenheath….. the Americans have spent a fortune on it over the years it’s a shame we can not use it for our military, I’ve read on here how poor some of their accommodation is perhaps close a run down RAF base and utilise these facilities

Nigel Collins

No doubt it will be sold off to help fill the current gap in defence spending sadly, but I agree, using this facility for our armed forces would make sense.

It’s going to have quite an impact on the local community.


John Stuart-Robson

First post here but its been delayed to at least 2027. I hope they stay! https://www.forces.net/news/raf-mildenhall-closure-delayed-until-least-2027


No, just Mildenhall. Lakenheath will operate US F35As


I hope the Americans remain at Mildenhall. Lakenheath will be the only active (on a daily basis) base in the UK once the Hall closes. I would have thought the Mildenhall base could have been upgraded to take B52 and B-2 instead of Fairford, as it’s nearer to the East Coast. Odd thinking on the part of the US DOD, as if they don’t understand the geography of the UK?


Fairford was upgraded a good few years ago with new specially built B2 Hangars and maintenance facilities with completely re-surfaced runway/taxiways. It’s the USAF European long range bomber base and assets from Mildenhall will be re-located there.

Robert Blay

It’s about a 15 min flight from Fairford to Mildenhall, so makes little difference.

Bloke down the pub

As I live in the flight path to Fairford, it looks like I’ve got B2s to look out for now and RC-135s to look out for in the near future . Oorah.

Robert Blay

If we went down the F35A route, I wouldn’t be surprised if the RAF used Lakenheath if we didn’t have room at Marham for another 2 or 3 sqns. Joint maintenance/simulator facilities ect.

Nigel Collins

Joint Maintenance makes sense to me, good idea.

Janes 11:03:2020

The Pentagon is seeking a specific set of F-35 data from Lockheed Martin that covers performance such as average time between part failures.

“A source said Lockheed Martin is reluctant to provide this because the company claims that it owns the rights and could also lose sustainment business if it provides such data.”


Will such data be shared with us as a Tier 1 Partner?

Nigel Collins

Even more so if we get another 2-3 squadrons as you suggest.
Sadly, I think we might struggle with the defence budget, hopefully not.


“The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has 873 unresolved deficiencies and new problems are being discovered regularly, making reducing the number of issues with the aircraft difficult.

That’s the conclusion of the latest scathing assessment of the stealth fighter from the Annual Report for the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E), released to the US Congress on 30 January”.


Robert Blay

You would hope so, as we can modify our own access codes. I think a joint base with the USAFE would make sense, my guess is it would be cheaper then spending a rather large amount of cash upgrading the infrastructure at another RAF base. See what the defence review brings. If we did buy any F35A’s, and that’s a big if, it would be a good few years down the line.


The UK F35 fleet is based at Marham becuse of it’s close proximity to Lakenheath so knowledge and engineering skills can be shared if necessary. Once the delivery rate increases we’ll be looking for a second location to base F35s. I would have thought a former frontline base like RAF Leeming would be ideal!


Let’s hope we don’t go down the F35A route, we need all the F35Bs we can get to create 2 x Carrier airwings. The RAF would love to split the order, but that’s not in the national interest.

Robert Blay

I don’t think it’s ever been the requirement to have 2 full airwings, and we will mostly only operate 1 carrier due to maintance and refit schedules. When both are available, the 2nd carrier will be used as a LPH that can also still carry maybe 12 F35’s alongside Chinooks Apache’s and commando Merlins. A buy of 80 or 90 F35B’s would be enough to deploy 24 F35s for normal operations, and 36/40 under surge conditions. Hopefully the defense review will clarify future F35 numbers.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree Robert. 90 will be enough. And even 24 F35 a step change to what we had before.


It sure is Daniele, taking 24 5th gen stealth fighters to sea is a massive step up, that only the Americans can match. We squeezed 17 Harriers on HMS Illustrious back in 2002, and that took a massive effort, and the capability was nothing compared to what we will be doing with the QE class and the F35. And this is just the beginning. We did things with the Invincible class in the 2000’s that was unheard of in the 80’s and 90’s. so we will be able to do incredible things with the QE class 10-15 years down the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli



Looking at the picture carefully, it seems it wasn’t that far off a bird strike.


Crow, didn’t see it coming….

Peter Crisp

I think you’re overlooking the fact it’s amazing we have photo’s at all given that Trump said these things were invisible. Maybe they’re like a Klingon cloaking device and can become invisible when they need to.

Gavin Gordon

Top Trumps on the Blackjacks?