If you have seen strange shapes in the skies over Gloucestershire this week then you could be forgiven for thinking a UFO is to blame but the chances are it is the US Air Forces most secret aircraft, the B2 Stealth Bomber.
A flight of 3 Northrop Grumman B2 Stealth Bombers arrived at RAF Fairford earlier this week and whilst not officially confirmed, the rumour is they are staying for a week or two as part of a NATO Bomber Task Force Excercise.
The trio arrived in the early hours of Tuesday morning using the callsigns Death 11, 12 and 13 flew across from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri; which is home to the 509th Bomb Wing which operates the aircraft.
Since arriving at RAF Fairford, the aircraft have flown training missions out of the UK. One flew to Keflavik, Iceland where the crew undertook “theatre optimisation training” while others flew with F35 aircraft from RAF Marham.
RAF Fairford is one of the main European forward operating bases for US Strategic Bombers and often plays host to Boeing B52’s and Rockwell B1 bomber deployments as well as acting as a stop-off point for the U2 Spy plane.
The B2-A “Spirit” Stealth Bomber is operated by a 2 man crew and can fly at speeds up to 630mph or Mach 0.95 and fly missions up to 6,900 miles in length, although this can be extended with Air to Air refuelling.
According to the USAF “Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe.”.
The aircraft currently based at RAF Fairford are 82-1068 “Spirit of New York”, 89-0129 “Spirit of Georgia” and 82-1071 “Spirit of Mississippi”.
Keen aircraft video maker Josh Sealey captured this amazing footage of the aircraft departing on a training mission.