COLOGNE, Germany — The U.S. Air Force is temporarily deploying 200 personnel with an expeditionary B-1 Lancer squadron to Norway to help manage bomber training flights in the region, U.S. European Command announced Tuesday.
The service members, hailing from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, will set up shop at Orland Air Base near Trondheim, a hub for Norway’s F-35 fighter jet fleet. The force represents “the advance team for scheduled missions in the coming weeks, which will occur for a limited time,” EUCOM’s statement read.
The move comes as the American military sharpens its focus on the Arctic region. NATO member Norway, at its northeasternmost tip, shares a border with Russia, and Moscow’s military modernization on the Kola Peninsula has helped position the area as a would-be flashpoint.
“Operational readiness and our ability to support allies and partners and respond with speed is critical to combined success,” Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, was quoted as saying in the statement. “We value the enduring partnership we have with Norway and look forward to future opportunities to bolster our collective defense.”
EUCOM routinely conducts so-called bomber task force missions in its area of responsibility. Those patrol and training flights often include allies, whose planes join forces with the American formation underway.
The command’s statement includes no information about how long the Air Force contingent will stay in Norway, nor what kind of equipment it will bring. The B-1 Lancer is a conventional bomber, as it had its nuclear capability removed in the mid-1990s.
“While details of specific missions or numbers of events are not discussed as part of routine operational security standards, U.S. Air Forces in Europe routinely host a variety of U.S. aircraft and units across the theater in support of USEUCOM objectives,” the statement read.
Expeditionary forces based a Dyess previously trained with Norwegian last September, the U.S. air service said then. During a 16-hour training sortie from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, B-1B Lancers covered 6,100 nautical miles for a trip over the North Pole. The flight featured aerial refueling over the Arctic Ocean followed by “several hours” of training with Norwegian forces off the coast of Greenland and over the Norwegian Sea, according to a Sept. 30 Air Force statement.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.