US bombers have arrived in Britain for an annual international war games event meant to serve as a not-so-subtle show of force aimed at Russia.
Two long-range B-1 bombers from Texas and a B-52 Stratofortress from Louisiana landed at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucestershire on Wednesday, CNN reports.
They will conduct flyovers in Slovakia and Poland before taking part in Ample Strike 2017 exercises hosted by the Czech Republic. More than 30 aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from eight allied nations will also conduct live-fire drills from August 28 to September 9.
The exercise intends to focus on air and land integration training, as well as strengthening interoperability between NATO ally and partner nations, US European Command said in a statement.
According to CNN, the display is meant to serve as a show of force against Russia, which is preparing to conduct war games in Belarus next month.
According to Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow for the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, the Russian military exercise called ‘Zapad,’ which means ‘West,’ causes the most concern as it resembles a Russian invasion.
In June, the US Air Force deployed long-range B-52 bombers and 800 airmen in support of joint exercises with NATO allies and partners taking place across Europe.
The nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress took part in a series of joint exercises on Russia’s doorstep, specifically in the Baltic Sea, the Arctic, and along Russia’s border with several NATO partners.
The B-52 is one of the oldest aircraft in the US Air Force, having first entered service in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War.
They were originally designed to serve as long-range, high-altitude intercontinental nuclear bombers that could strike deep inside the Soviet Union.
The B-1 is considered the backbone of the US long-range bomber fleet.
They are capable of delivering a nuclear strike, although none of the planes sent to Britain is armed with a nuclear weapon.
RAF Fairford is an American standby base for European operations.