Brejstad, Norway — By Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron — Published Sept. 5, 2023 —
Last week, two B-2 Spirit Bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., made history by refueling for the first time in Ørland flystasjon, Norway, Aug. 29.
“It is extremely important that we participate in the Bomber Task Force and train alongside our U.S. Partners,” said Norwegian air force Col. Martin Tesli, Ørland flystasjon wing commander. “Being unified in our mission to protect NATO airspace and territories provides a credible deterrence in our mission.”
The B-2s are currently operating out of Iceland, as part of the Bomber Task Force Europe. During the BTF, the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron is actively integrating with several NATO Allies to train as a single force.
« Today, my mission is to ensure we can receive and support our allies,” added Tesli. “The hot pit refueling here, was monumental because it allows us to accomplish that mission.”
Hot pit refueling in locations around the world allows for the B-2 to expand its fuel range and minimize its time on the ground. Through strategic hot pit locations, the U.S. and our Allies are able to increase combat airpower throughout the European theater.
Currently the B-2 holds the record for the longest air combat mission in history flying over 70 hours which was made possible with a hot pit refuel.
As U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, 393rd EBS commander, stated in the initial release on the event, « 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.”
The Bomber Task Force Europe missions provide opportunities for Allies and partners to synergize operations and increase flexibility of all participating forces.
“This training benefits the U.S. and Norway alike, and has allowed my people the chance to perform a hot pit, crew swap, and allowed the B-2 to make a historical landing at Ørland flystasjon,” added Tesli.
Regular deployments of the B-2 within Europe provides critical opportunities to train and operate alongside our Allies while bolstering our collective response to any global conflict. By maintaining a ready and capable strategic bomber force and integrating with our Allies, coalition forces can maintain strategic agility in a dynamic security environment.
As the B-2 operations in Europe continue, the refueling highlights U.S. and Norway cooperation and the ability of U.S. Forces to collaborate with allied and partner nations to confront a broad range of global challenges. Together we are ready at a moment’s notice to execute joint operations and deliver global strike… anytime, anywhere.