B-2 strategic bombers land at Azores base at start of European deployment
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 9, 2020
STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers arrived at an air base in the Azores Monday for the start of a series of operations in Europe, the military said.
“The aircraft will operate out of various military installations in the U.S. European Command’s area of responsibility,” EUCOM said in statement. “Strategic bomber deployments to Europe provide theater familiarization for aircrew members and demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners.”
The B-2 Spirit bomber task force that arrived at Lajes Field in the Azores – a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic, located about 2,200 miles from Washington, D.C. – is from the 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing, both out of Whiteman Air Base in Missouri.
KC-10 Extenders from the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey provided aerial refueling support during the B-2s’ transit across the Atlantic Ocean, EUCOM said.
A Portuguese base, Lajes is the only military airfield in the mid-Atlantic and provides a secure location for rest, refueling and maintenance for U.S. and allied aircraft. It is also “strategically located to provide support in combat operations,” EUCOM said.
In August, the Air Force deployed a similar B-2 bomber task force to Europe. Deployments by strategic bombers to Europe have become more frequent in recent years, amid U.S. and European concerns about Russian aggression.