Source: Business Insider
Dubbed “Polar Roar” the latest US show of force saw bombers flying to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in a Cold War-style exercise.
One B-52H Stratofortress from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, two B-52Hs from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, and two B-2A Spirits from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, were launched in simultaneous, non-stop flights from the US to the North and Baltic Seas. The planes flew around the North Pole and over Alaska, and over the Pacific Ocean to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, respectively.
The mission saw some of the bombers drop inert weapons (in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex) and included joint training with some regional partners whose fighters had the opportunity to intercept the heavy bombers.
During their transit through the European region, the Danish F-16s supporting NATO’s continuous Baltic Air Policing mission, along with JAS-39 Gripens from the Partnership for Peace nation of Sweden, joined the bombers. Additionally, Typhoons from Great Britain – one of the Baltic Air Policing detachments – were airborne in western Estonia training areas while the bomber transited the Baltic Sea off the Estonian coast.
As highlighted by one of our sources, it’s worth a note the fact that the Russian Su-27s based at Kaliningrad, were not scrambled to perform VID (Visual Identification) of the Stratofortress bomber in the Baltic. The Flankers are frequently launched to intercept the US RC-135 Rivet Joint deployed to RAF Mildenhall. Moreover, the NATO countries always scramble their QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) fighters when the Russian Tu-95 or Tu-160 bombers transit in international airspace off their sovereign airspace.
Realistic exercises like POLAR ROAR are conducted periodically in coordination with North American Aerospace Defense Command. Usually, on a 24-hour period, during these drills nearly every USSTRATCOM component, task force, unit, command post and bomb wing takes part in the training event with the aim of improving all the command capabilities: Space, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, global strike, and ballistic missile defense.
According to the US Air Force “POLAR ROAR demonstrates the ability of the US bomber force to provide a flexible and vigilant long-range global-strike capability and provides unique and valuable opportunities to train and integrate with allies and partners.”
Essentially, it’s a message to Russia. This is noteworthy, after a surge in missions flown by the Russian Air Force bombers close to European airspaces as recorded by NATO.