Bomber Task Force Europe 22-1


The only bomber deployment hosted at RAF Fairford in 2021 came in October, when, over the course of 2 days, 4 B-1s arrived for a regular Bomber Task Force Europe deployment. 

Support for the 4 aircraft started arriving as early as Sunday, September 26th as a single Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy came in from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. It departed late evening on Monday 27th. 

The 27th also saw a Boeing C-17A Globemaster and Atlas Air Boeing 767 arrive from Texas. The C-17 departed at around 18:20 the same day, while the Atlas Air didn't leave until almost 01:00 on the 28th.

On Saturday 2nd October, a 747 operated by National Airlines arrived and departed. This meant that all of the equipment was ready, now all we needed was the bombers!

The first 2 aircraft (86-0110 & 86-0140) arrived on October 6th as REMUS01 flight. Prior to their arrival, the pair were working at altitude over Anglesey with RAF aircraft. 

HYPNO01 flight of 2 made it to the Cotswolds the next day. 

I made the short trip up the following day, to make sure I got them at least once this deployment. To my surprise, one jet was running on the North side of the airfield whilst another was parked in a prime position around the Eastern loop. It seemed to soon for the aircraft to start flying their missions, but nevertheless I had everything crossed! Alas, the jet didn't launch. 86-0136 taxied out to and down the entirety of runway 27, coming off to park on the Western loop, affectionately known as the 'Bomber loop'. 

My first chance to catch some flying came on Monday 11th October as 86-0110 flew a mission under darkness as DARK11. Having missed the departure, I stuck around for the arrival which involved a touch and go. I apologise for the quality, but the video below shows the B-ONE performing said touch and go. 

Having gone to Fairford one evening with the aim of catching the U-2 return, it wasn't difficult to notice that the sun was shining beautiful on the aircraft as they sat under otherwise stormy looking skies. 

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0103

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0110

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0136

The greatest part of this deployment by far was some Saturday flying, which gave me a chance to catch some more action, as I was certain I wouldn't have seen any in daylight. SKYPE01 flight of 2 consisting of 86-0136 and 86-0140 departed early morning on Saturday 23rd and spent the day operating around Scandinavia. The pair returned at just gone 16:00. 

Following this sortie, the pair performed a hot-pit refuel and took to the skies once again on a flight to Scotland. Seen in the link below departing under the cover of darkness is DARK62. I apologise for the poor camera work, October nights and a bridge camera aren't a great combination!

Wednesday October 27th saw JAVELIN01 flight of 2 depart just before 8am. The aircraft headed south from Fairford. It didn't take long for the lead aircraft, 86-0110 to start suffering with a problem, which caused the pilots to have to return to Fairford. It arrived back at 09:`17. 86-0140 continued on with the mission and arrived back at 16:33. 0140 hot-pitted and launched again later in the day on a sortie that lasted just over 3 hours. 

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0110 JAVELIN01

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0140 JAVELIN02

The first 2 jets departed for home on Sunday November 14th at 9am as ARTY11/12. The second 2 followed the next day as ARTY13/14. This brought BTF 22-1 to an end, but what a fantastic 5 weeks it was!

A single Atlas Air 767 arrived on November 18th to take the deployed personnel home, while the Bones' equipment followed the next day aboard a pair of USAF C-17s.

With credit to both The Official Fighter Control Website and the RAF Fairford Movement Blog, here is the full list of aircraft that were involved in this deployment:

Atlas Air Boeing 767 N645GT CMB505

Atlas Air Boeing 767 N649GT GTI8717

National Airlines Boeing 747 N702CA CMB543 

USAF Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy 86-0015 RCH922 - 433rd AW

USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 07-7171 RCH879 - 305th AMW

USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 95-0102 RCH151 - 437th AW

USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 99-0166 RCH180 - 62nd AW

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0103 - 9th Bomb Squadron 'Bats' - 7th Bomb Wing

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0110 - 9th Bomb Squadron 'Bats' - 7th Bomb Wing

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0136 - 28th Bomb Squadron 'Mohawks' - 7th Bomb Wing

USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer 86-0140 - 345th Bomb Squadron 'Desperados' - 7th Bomb Wing