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B1-B bombers integrate with allied fighters in long-range Nordic exercise

U.S. Air Force Bi-B Lancer bombers, at center, are seen with escorts from the Royal Norwegian Air Force as they complete a long range training exercise on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of USAFE-USAFRICA/Twitter
U.S. Air Force Bi-B Lancer bombers, at center, are seen with escorts from the Royal Norwegian Air Force as they complete a long range training exercise on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of USAFE-USAFRICA/Twitter

May 20 (UPI) -- Two USAF B1-B Lancer bombers were escorted by British, Swedish and Norwegian fighter planes as they conducted a long-range training exercise in Europe on Wednesday.

The bombers, part of the 28th Bomb Wing, left their home base at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., flew to Europe's Nordic region and returned without stopping, Air Force officials announced.

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The aircraft were aided by refueling planes of Britain's Royal Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

"Long-range bomber training missions strengthen our steadfast partnerships with allies across both Europe and Africa and showcase our ability to respond globally from anywhere," Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, said in a press release. "This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking groundbreaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations."

As the B-1Bs flew over airspace of allied countries, they were escorted by fighter planes of those nations.

RAF Typhoons integrated with them over Britain, and Swedish Gripen planes escorted the Lancers as they carried out their first exercise in close-air support with the Swedish Air Force.

They were later joined over Norwegian airspace by F-35As of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

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In April, Lancers from Ellsworth Air Force Base flew a similar mission with the Japan Air Self-Defense force, and last week flew over Poland, Latvia and Lithuania with Polish and Danish fighter planes as escorts.

"This has been another excellent opportunity to demonstrate the continued commitment of the Royal Air Force to the NATO alliance," RAF Air Vice Marshal Ian Duguid said of Wednesday's collaborative exercise in a press release.

"Working closely with the U.S. and other NATO nations helps build a collective capability within NATO that enhances our level of interoperability. These missions also offer a unique opportunity to test and refine the complex network of air command and control, intelligence and space based operations that are essential to delivering front line RAF capabilities."

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