US Air Force Bomber Task Force Integration with NATO Baltic Air Policing
US Air Force Bomber Task Force Integration with NATO Baltic Air Policing

US Air Force Bomber Task Force Integration with NATO Baltic Air Policing

The US-led Bomber Task Force 21 integrated B-1B Lancers, temporarily operating from their forward location in Ørland, Norway, with NATO Baltic Air Policing fighters from Italy and Germany on March 3, 2021. The combined mission was flown over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The US-NATO formation conducted fly-bys near the three Baltic Capitals of Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn to demonstrate NATO’s presence, readiness, and commitment to the transatlantic link within the Alliance.

“Operating Allied alert fighters with forward operating bombers highlights the theatre-wide capabilities and reach of our Allied forces,” said General Jeff Harrigian, Commander NATO Allied Air Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. “This type of mission demonstrates the Alliance’s continued resolve in maintaining security and stability across the region.”

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Two Italian Air Force Eurofighters conducting an escort training mission for a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber overflying Latvia. Photo courtesy Latvian Ministry of Defence.
Two Italian Air Force Eurofighters conducting an escort training mission for a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber overflying Latvia. Photo courtesy Latvian Ministry of Defence. Photo by Italian Air Force

“Integration in a multinational environment is basically one of the most important tasks for NATO air power and especially here in the Baltic region,” said Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Auer, Commander of the German NATO Air Policing detachment in Šiauliai, Lithuania. “Being able to execute that with our Eurofighter jets during a combined mission together with US B-1Bs in the Baltics was an honour,” he added.

Integration in a multinational environment is one of the most important tasks for NATO air power Baltic Air Policing is usually accomplished by routine missions with fighter aircraft; NATO’s northern Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, has awareness of all flight movements in the Baltic region and scrambles Allied fighters to safeguard the airspace in that region. However, this special circumstance allowed NATO fighters to fly alongside strategic United States Air Force bomber aircraft and exercise common tactics, techniques, and procedures.

A German Air Force Eurofighter twoship took off from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, to conduct integration training and practice formation flying with a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber.
A German Air Force Eurofighter twoship took off from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, to conduct integration training and practice formation flying with a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber. Photo by German Air Force.
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