A number of long-range B-52 bombers will be deployed to the UK to take part in upcoming joint wargames with NATO forces.
The deployment takes place against a backdrop of uncertainty about the future role of US forces in the defence of the continent.
President Donald Trump has alienated many European countries with comments about the perceived obsolescence of NATO, and his views that Germany is not ‘paying enough’ towards defence spending.
Nevertheless, a number of bombers and up to 800 troops will soon arrive in the UK. The upcoming wargames will take place across the Baltic region, right on Russia’s borders, later this month.
The B-52 Stratofortress is one of the US Air Force’s longest serving aircraft.
It first entered active service in 1955, and carried out a large number of bombing operations throughout the Vietnam War, notably during sustained bombardment campaigns as part of operations Rolling Thunder and Arc Light.
The aircraft, which completed its sixtieth operational year in 2015, has seen action as recently as 2016, conducting sorties in Afghanistan.
Having undergone a large number of modifications throughout its long history, the B-52 is likely to remain operational at least until 2045, some 90 years after the aircraft first entered service. This is an unprecedented length of service for any aircraft, civilian or military, in history.