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The Air Force is Sending B-1B Bombers to Norway for a Not-So-Subtle Reason

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Ebensberger/DVIDS


    The U.S. Air Force is sending B-1B Lancer bombers to Norway for the first time in history. The deployment of the bombers is particularly bold, as Norway is one of Russia’s many neighbors. The move sends a strong signal that the U.S. is prepared to push back against aggressive Russian activities.

    Four B-1B bombers will soon fly from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas across the Atlantic Ocean to Orland Air Base in Norway, the home of the country’s fleet of F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jets. Approximately 200 U.S. Air Force personnel will accompany the bombers.

    The U.S. is likely sending the B-1B bombers to let Russia know President Joe Biden’s administration will take a tougher line against nefarious Russian activities than Donald Trump’s administration did. In recent months, Moscow has cracked down on anti-government demonstrations, is believed to have poisoned a well known pro-democracy activist, and possibly spearheaded the Solarwinds U.S. government hack. Russian bombers have also flown near Japan in a joint patrol with Chinese bombers.

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    The B-1B Lancer was originally designed for the nuclear strike mission, flying low and fast to penetrate enemy air defenses. But the B-1B lost its nuclear mission as part of a treaty limiting nuclear arms, so today, the plane can carry conventional weapons, making it the only non-nuclear-armed bomber in Air Force service.


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    In recent years, the B-1B has served as a close air support aircraft over Afghanistan, with its high speed, long loiter time, and large bomb load proving to be very useful in support of U.S. troops on the ground. That mission, however, stressed the bomber fleet, sending many of the planes into deep maintenance and forcing the service to restrict low-level flight.

    Lately, the Lancer has reinvented itself as a cruise missile carrier, capable of carrying more than 24 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM). In 2018, B-1Bs pummeled Syrian government chemical weapons facilities with a salvo of JASSM missiles.

    The lack of a nuclear role makes the B-1B an effective signaling tour. While a nuclear-armed bomber stationed in one of Russia’s neighbors would make the country understandably nervous, Russian officials still travel to the U.S. once a year to certify that the B-1B fleet can no longer carry nuclear arms.


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