RAF F35’s train with USAF B2 Stealth Bombers

A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets. For the first time, UK F-35 Lightning jets have been conducting integration flying training with the B-2 Spirit stealth bombers of the United States Air Force as part of their deployment to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK. The USAF deployment of the B-2’s from the Bomber Task Force Europe is long-planned. Whilst deployed to the UK the aircraft will conduct a series of training activities in Europe. During this deployment, RAF F-35B Lightning fighters are conducting sorties with the USAF B-2 bombers. Both are 5th generation aircraft and this is the first time that USAF B-2’s have trained with non-US F-35’s. RAF Fairford routinely hosts deployments and exercises by US strategic aircraft. These regular deployments reinforce the US Air Force Europe and the Royal Air Force’s unique and complementary partnership and our collective contribution to NATO. Imagery captured by a USAF Exchange Pilot.

The Royal Air Force’s latest aircraft the F-35B Lightning is being put through its paces alongside the B2-A Spirit Stealth Bomber in the skies around Britain.

The United States Air Force (USAF) has deployed 3 B2 Stealth Bombers to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire which in itself is a rare event but to fly alongside RAF jets, is rarer still. In fact, it is the first time that another country has been allowed to fly with these highly secretive aircraft.

A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets
A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets – Imagery captured by a USAF Exchange Pilot.

The RAF has been conducting operations using the F-35B with its NATO allies as the aircraft becomes a more integral part of the UK defence plans.

Group Captain Richard Yates Chief of Staff at the UK Air Battle Staff, said: “We’re delighted that the USAF and 501st Wing Bomber Task Force are here in the UK and that our F-35 Lightning pilots have the chance to fly alongside and train with the B-2 bomber crews. This is the first time that any other country has done this.

A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets. -  Imagery captured by a USAF Exchange Pilot.
A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets. – Imagery captured by a USAF Exchange Pilot.

“This flying integration builds on the work of Exercise Lightning Dawn in Cyprus and the visit of RAF F-35 Lightning to Italy in June, where in both cases it had the opportunity to prove itself among other NATO allies who also operate the aircraft.”

According to the USAF, The RAF is integral to the mission of the 509th Bomb Wing and Task Force Commander Lieutenant Colonel Rob Schoeneberg said: “The beauty of our partnerships is that we get to understand how they see the world. Working alongside international fifth-generation aircraft provides unique training opportunities for us, bolsters our integration capabilities, and showcases the commitment we have to our NATO alliance.”

A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover. - Imagery captured by a USAF Exchange Pilot.
A United States Air Force B2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover. – Imagery captured by a USAF Exchange Pilot.

Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster added: “NATO is the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic defence, and those secure foundations continue to be reinforced by the training exercises being completed between the Royal Air Force and our special friends in the US Air Force.”

About Nick Harding 784 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.