U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers flew in close formation over all 30 NATO countries on Friday to mark the U.S. commitment to the Atlantic Alliance and likely as a warning to hardline leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.
Air Force officials said six of the venerable B-52 Stratofortress bombers are taking part in the single-day mission called Allied Sky.
A pair of bombers assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., will fly over Canada and the United States while four B-52s from a Royal Air Force Base in Fairford, U.K., will fly the European portion of the mission.
The bombers will link up with the air forces of several NATO members during the day who will provide fighter escort and aerial refueling.
“U.S. security commitments to the NATO alliance remain ironclad,” said Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander. “Today’s bomber task force mission is another example of how the Alliance sustains readiness, improves interoperability and demonstrates our ability to deliver on commitments from across the Atlantic.”
NATO member states from Belgium to the U.K. are taking part in the bomber drill.
“By further enhancing our enduring relationships, we sent a clear message to potential adversaries about our readiness to meet any global challenge,” Gen. Wolters said.
Sign up for Daily Newsletters