Bomber Task Force Europe 22-2

07/02/2022

Although the second bomber deployment of Fiscal Year 2022, the first deployment in 2022 started in February, when rumours circulated that Minot would be sending multiple B-52s to Gloucestershire later that month.

The equipment and deployed personnel arrived on Monday, 7th February aboard a Boeing C-17 Globemaster and Boeing 777 respectively. The 777 departed around 2 hours after arriving, while the C-17 departed the following day. Also on the 8th, a Boeing 747 freighter arrived. The final equipment arrived on a C-5M Super Galaxy on Thursday, 10th February, when the bombers arrived. 

HATE11 flight of 4 B-52s departed Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, destined for RAF Fairford. Before landing at Fairford, 3 of the 4 aircraft operated in UK airspace and worked bombing ranges such as Tain and Holbeach. 1 aircraft came directly to Fairford and landed at 11:30. The rest of the flight arrived between 14:00 and 15:30. 

Sorties started on Sunday, February 13th, when, at almost 23:30, a pair departed as CHIEF11 flight. One aircraft encountered an issue during their flight, as such it returned, arriving back at Fairford at around 09:30 on Monday morning. The other aircraft in the flight pushed on, and, almost 24 hours after departing, it returned at 22:50. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the fence for a single daylight flight throughout this deployment, and since B-52s are just lights in the dark, I have no photos to share from those couple evenings I did make it to Fairford. Instead, I used the opportunity to take in the experience and watch as the aircraft returned from their missions. It's nice to watch the aircraft with your eyes and not through a camera every once in a while. 

 However, I did make sure I caught all 4 aircraft in the daylight parked up, as half of the deployed force were new aircraft for me!

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 60-0044 'Exaclibur'

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 61-0003 'Old Ironsides III'

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 61-0018 'Night Train'

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 61-0039 'The Warrior'

Following a nine-week deployment (the longest to ever happen in my lifetime!), departure day came. Early morning on April 15th, FEAR51-53 screamed out of Gloucestershire heading for home, Minot Air Force Base. They left behind one aircraft, which had suffered a cracked window during a recent flight. With the window replaced, the last aircraft, known as Night Train, made the transatlantic crossing back to Minot. The personnel departed on board an Omni Air International Boeing 767 on April 19th. A Boeing 747 also arrived that day to pick up the buff kit. It departed the next day. 

It wasn't until April 29th that the next heavy arrived to pick up equipment. This came in the form of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster. With 2 of the deployed U-2 Dragon Ladies airborne and the C-17 still at the base, I went to take a look and bag myself 3 aircraft. The C-17 departed like a rocket that evening, turning north quite early. The C-17 was planned to depart much earlier, but technical difficulties curtailed that. It left Fairford and flew to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where it had arrived from that morning. 

USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 03-3127 REACH489

The last of the equipment returned home on a Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy on Thursday, May 5th. The aircraft arrived the day before. 

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

Kalitta Air Boeing 747 N700CK CKS9704

National Airlines Boeing 747 N756CA NCR440

Omni Air International Boeing 767 N234AX CAMBER517

Omni Air International Boeing 777 N819AX CAMBER501

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 60-0044 - 23rd Bomb Squadron 'Bomber Barons' - 5th Bomb Wing

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 61-0003 - 69th Bomb Squadron 'Knighthawks' - 5th Bomb Wing

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 61-0018 - 69th Bomb Squadron 'Knighthawks' - 5th Bomb Wing

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 61-0039 - 69th Bomb Squadron 'Knighthawks' - 5th Bomb Wing

USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 03-3127 REACH489 - 62nd Airlift Wing 

USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 97-0044 REACH103 - 89th Airlift Squadron - 445th Airlift Wing

USAF Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy 85-0001 REACH435 - 436th/512th Airlift Wing

USAF Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy 83-1285 REACH860 - 436th/512th Airlift Wing