A B-2 Spirit bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., conducted a historic hot pit refueling at Orland Air Base, Norway on Aug. 29, 2023. The occasion marked the first time that the B-2 has landed in Norway, signaling the shared commitment between the U.S. and Norway to deter threats and strengthen the NATO Alliance. Three B-2 Spirit bombers are currently forward deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., to Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 23-4. Hot pit refueling within NATO countries allows for the B-2 to expand its fuel range and minimize its time on the ground.
“The long-range, penetrating strike the B-2 provides is a truly unique capability in the world; but long range requires a lot of gas. Honing our ability to interoperate with our allies and utilize partner-nation equipment and infrastructure to refuel can significantly reduce what we often call our ‘tanker bill;’ in some cases it could be the difference between mission success and failure,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander.
“Hot-pit refueling emerges as a transformative tactic in bomber operations, promising heightened versatility. This clever technique extends our reach, establishing temporary operational hubs at strategically chosen and even unpredictable locations. These adaptive capabilities are the core of modern airpower projection,” said Gen. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Africa and NATO Allied Air Command.
By exercising the ability to conduct hot pit refueling in strategic locations, the U.S. and our Allies are able to increase combat airpower throughout the European theater. The ability of U.S. forces and equipment to operate in conjunction with our Allies and Partners is critical to bolstering an extended network of alliances and partnerships capable of decisively meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow. As B-2 operations in Europe continue, this historic refueling highlights U.S. and Norwegian cooperation and the ability of U.S. Forces to collaborate with Allied and Partner nations to confront a broad range of global challenges.