LAJES FIELD, Azorez --
Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, along with more than 100 Airmen, civilians and contractors, arrived at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, to participate in a series of Bomber Task Force missions in the high North European region.
Bomber Task Force missions are critical to ensuring Air Force Global Strike Airmen are capable of executing operations at the direction of the national command authority. By training in Europe, aircrew and Airmen are familiarizing themselves with the European theater and airspace, to enhance enduring skills and relationships with allies and partners.
“We’re ready to execute our missions and achieve all of European Command’s objectives,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Conant, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander.
The B-2’s deployment to Lajes Field provides a staging point allowing commanders to confront a broad range of global challenges in support of the National Defense Strategy, through the employment of a multi-role bomber.
“Lajes Field has been in continuous use with Portuguese and U.S. military presence since 1943,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Tammy S. Hinskton, 65th Air Base Group commander. “It has been called upon for decades to enable the movement of expeditionary forces and has proved its geo-strategic importance time and time again. The men and women at Lajes Field have a long tradition of being trained, ready and able to support global operations when called upon.”
While the U.S. Air Force routinely deploys a variety of aircraft and units throughout Europe for training and to support geographic combatant command objectives, the B-2’s deployment to Lajes Field demonstrates the importance of working with U.S. allies and partners.
“We are strongly committed to our long-standing relationship with our Portuguese allies, a relationship based on trust, respect and the common goals of protecting our mutual security and strategic interests,” added Hinskton. “Lajes Field provides strategic communication and power projection platforms to support global operations, enable combined forces across three combatant commands and supports our international partnerships.”
The theater integration and training with allies, partners and other U.S. military units enhances interoperability capability across the entire theater. This cooperation increases Air Force Global Strike’s Airmen readiness, and the B-2’s ability to respond to and support global operations.
“If there’s one thing history has proven, it’s that warfighting is a team sport,” said Conant. “This won’t change, which is why it’s so valuable for us to get into theater and start integrating with our allies and partners. We are doing some new types of integration on this trip and it is really exciting to see the coalition get stronger.”
The employment of bombers contributes to stability throughout Europe, as they are intended to deter conflict. However, the B-2 can offer a rapid response capability to meet any need, anytime, anywhere.
“The B-2 bomber is the only asset in the world capable of combining stealth, a massive payload of weapons, and significant strike range, both unrefueled and refueled,” added Conant. “The B-2 can hold targets at risk for European Command authorities, from home station or a forward operating location. Putting B-2s in theater at a location like Lajes Field, allows the 393d Expeditionary Bomb Squadron to provide a faster response and increased sorties for the Combatant Commander. It also provides the opportunity to integrate with our allies and partners, making everyone more lethal.”
As the B-2 conducts missions to enhance the readiness and training necessary for Airmen to respond to potential disasters or challenges across the globe, Lajes Field provides a strategic stepping stone in the European theater that assures mission success.
“Lajes Field is an important military organization vital to U.S., NATO and international security efforts,” added Hinskton. “Also, Lajes Field operates a key communication node that provides weather, telephone, email and internet coverage to aircraft, closing a coverage gap across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the USAF's second largest fuel reserve capability.”
The B-2’s presence at Lajes Field is a symbol of assurance and commitment to our allies and partners. By conducting missions from Lajes Field, Whiteman AFB Airmen demonstrate their ability to operate across the globe and are flexible and agile to respond to the changes in the operational environment.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe routinely hosts and supports a variety of U.S. Air Force aircraft and units for training and to support geographic combatant command objectives. Operating with a variety of aircraft and units in Europe maintains a ready and postured force prepared to respond to and support global operations.