OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Five bombers from all three of the United States' strategic bomber bases completed a mission Monday designed to test the force's long-range, global-strike capability while training and integrating with key allies and partners.
The mission, POLAR ROAR, involved three nonstop, simultaneous flights of three B-52 Stratofortresses and two B-2 Spirits.
One B-52 from the 2nd Bomb Wing flew from Nellis AFB, Nev., to the North and Baltic Seas and through the English Channel, conducting intercept training with Danish F-16s supporting NATO's continuous air policing mission, JAS-39 Gripens from Sweden and other allies and partner nations. The bomber then conducted intercept training with North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)-assigned Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter aircraft before returning home to Barksdale AFB, La.
Two B-52s from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, N.D., flew over the North Pole and mainland Alaska, where they conducted intercept training with NORAD-assigned U.S. F-22s and an inert weapons drop at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).
Simultaneously, two B-2s from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo., flew over the Pacific Ocean to Alaska's Aleutian Islands, where they practiced intercepts with NORAD-assigned U.S. F-15s and conducted an inert weapons drop at the JPARC.
The POLAR ROAR mission included training in polar navigation and weapons operations, as well as integration with NORAD and NATO allies and partners. It was designed to ensure crews maintain the readiness and proficiency necessary to provide an always-ready global strike capability, It also tested the bomber force's ability to support three synchronized flight paths encompassing more than 55,500 miles.
"POLAR ROAR was specifically designed and closely coordinated with our allies to ensure we are integrating our bomber capabilities with their military assets to the maximum extent, strengthening and improving our ability to work with our allies and partners toward mutual goals," said U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander. "The unique, real-time training with NORAD and NATO allies and partners that was afforded by POLAR ROAR enables us to build enduring relationships necessary to confront the broad range of global challenges."
U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts strategic bomber operations that provide valuable opportunities for bomber crews to integrate and train with allies and partners and other global combatant commands in a variety of missions.
Most recently, B-52s deployed to RAF Fairford, U.K., in June, to support Exercises BALTOPS and SABER STRIKE.
USSTRATCOM bombers have also conducted intercept training with UK Royal Air Force and Royal Netherlands Air Force aircraft and NORAD-assigned Canadian fighters during POLAR GROWL in April 2015, supported the largest NATO exercise in the last 20 years in TRIDENT JUNCTURE in November 2015, and deployed to Moron Air Base, Spain, for Exercises COLD RESPONSE 16 and SERPENTEX in February through March 2016.
Strategic bombers have also participated alongside NORAD-assigned forces in major training exercises, most recently in October 2015, when B-52s flew to Goose Bay, Canada, during exercise VIGILANT SHIELD.
One of nine DoD unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions, assigned through the Unified Command Plan, which include strategic deterrence; space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting.