Update: B-1 Lancer deployment to Norway
Following our breaking story of 18 January 2021 (see Scramble News "B-1 Lancer deployment to Europe") in which we reported about an upcoming B-1B deployment to Orland (Norway), more info came available.
The US Air Force is deploying the Lancers and airmen to Orland for the very first time. With the Bomber Task Force (BTF), the Pentagon is underscoring the growing importance of the Arctic region to US defense strategy.
More than 200 Air Force personnel from Dyess AFB (TX), are expected to arrive at Orland on 20 or 21 February 2021. The B-1s are expected to arrive with an expeditionary B-1 Lancer bomber squadron to support missions in the region as US European Command (USEUCOM) said in a statement on 2 Februay 2021. The airmen “will be a part of the advance team for scheduled missions in the coming weeks which will occur for a limited time,” the statement said.
The USAF in July 2020 unveiled a new Arctic defense strategy focused on bolstering its presence in the area and countering threats from Russia and China. While at Orland, the airmen will conduct operations in the High North and work with allies and partners across the European theater.
The USAF has been stepping up its strategic bomber missions in the Arctic, but recent missions have either been staged from RAF Fairford (United Kingdom), where bombers typically deploy while training in Europe, or have involved roundtrip flights between the US and the Nordic region.
Stars and Stripes reports that during the height of the Cold War, strategic bombers often crisscrossed the region. Although bombers such as the B-52 and F-111 were based nearby in Britain, they weren’t allowed to use Norwegian air bases, even for exercises, because the government in Oslo banned nuclear-capable allied aircraft from using its territory.
Photo by USAF (Royal Norwegian F-35s in formation with 28th BW B-1s during a BTF deployment from RAF Fairford in 2020)