Bomber Task Force Europe 20-2

05/04/2020

The first exercise of 2020 was rather short-lived, with 2 B-2 Spirits arriving from Lajes Field in Portugal and 1 from Whiteman Air Force Base on March 12th and heading home on March 20th due to the Coronavirus. 

March 7th saw the first equipment arrive at Fairford from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on board an Atlas Air Boeing 747. The personnel arrived onboard an Omni Air International Boeing 777 the next day. A pair of Boeing C-17A Globemasters also arrived with equipment, with one coming from Missouri and the other from Lajes. 

As previously mentioned, March 12th is when the 3 Spirits arrived into Fairford. 2 had started the European deployment by visiting Lajes Field in Portugal, so some equipment was flown into there.

Unfortunately, during their stay here I was unable to see a sortie from the jets, but I did make sure to go and see them parked up at the very least. 

The first of the equipment left on March 28th when a C-5 arrived into and departed from Fairford. The crews left on 31st of March on board an Omni Air International Boeing 777. A Western Global Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-11 made 2 flights into Fairford on April 2nd and 3rd, taking away the remnants of the kit. With the UK in lockdown due to COVID-19, I (or theoretically anyone else) was able to make it to the base for any of these movements, which is a great shame as the C-5 was on a Saturday. However, considering what the World was facing at the time, planes were the least of people's worries. That being said, the MD-11 did pass over my house 20 miles from Fairford on both it's inbound and outbound legs. 

With credit to and help from both The Official Fighter Control Website and the RAF Fairford Movements Blog, the full list of aircraft involved is below.

Atlas Air 747 N477MC GTI8362

Omni Air International 767 N378AX CMB535

Omni Air International 777 N828AX CMB557

Western Global Airlines MD-11 N512JN WGN8852

USAF B-2A 82-1068 'Spirit of New York' - 13th Bomb Squadron 'The Devils Own Grim Reapers' - 509th Bomb Wing

USAF B-2A 82-1070 'Spirit of Ohio' - 393rd Bomb Squadron 'Invisible Defenders' - 509th Bomb Wing

USAF B-2A 88-0332 'Spirit of Washington' - 13th Bomb Squadron 'The Devils Own Grim Reapers' - 509th Bomb Wing

USAF C-5M 85-0008 RCH564 - 436th AMW

USAF C-17A 03-3124 RCH838 - 437th AW

USAF C-17A 05-5144 RCH522 - 729th AS

Since this short deployment, the B-2s haven't officially redeployed to Fairford, although they have made a couple of short visits to the base in both 2021 and 2023.