Global Thunder Highlights Are One Way to Ease Those Lockdown Blues
“Global Thunder is an annual command and control exercise that provides training opportunities for all of U.S. Strategic Command’s mission areas, testing joint and field training operations with a specific focus on nuclear readiness.” At least that’s what the United States Air Force says it is. We know that four USAF 2nd Bomb Wing (BW) B-52H Stratofortress bombers and more than 400 support personnel deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) to RAF Fairford, southeast of Gloucester in the UK, for some intense flying with allied Air Forces over several weeks late last year. More on the deployment itself below, but first enjoy the highlights (all 50 minutes worth!) as uploaded to YouTube by Military Aviation TV.
A Show of Strength By Any Other Name
The deployment of the Barksdale BUFFs was also referred to as a United States Strategic Command Bomber Task Force (BTF) 20-1 deployment. Deployments like these, especially to RAF Fairford, have long been a regular occurrence for the BUFFs and their maintainers. More recently a similar deployment took place which included not only B-52Hs but also B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers. We’ll bring you the gouge on the latest BTF when it concludes.
BTF 20-1 BUFF Headliners
The four B-52H Stratofortress bombers that deployed to RAF Fairford were:
20th Bomb Squadron (BS) Buccaneers B-52H-145-BW 60-0024 C/N 464389 named “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
20th BS Buccaneers B-52H-145-BW 60-0025 C/N: 464390 named “Ol’ Crow Express II / Atomic Dog”
96th BS Devil’s Own B-52H-145-BW 60-0028 C/N: 464393 named “The Tired Eagle.”
96th BS Devil’s Own B-52H-135-BW 61-0006 C/N: 464433 named “Old Soldier II.”
Allied Forces on the Wing
Working with the BUFFs were forces from several NATO allied countries including Great Britain, France, Norway, Finland, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Georgia, Czech Republic, and Saudi Arabia. Other aircraft appearing in the video included Norwegian, Finnish, and Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons, Saudi Arabian F-15 Eagles, US Air Force 100th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) KC-135R Stratotankers, and 60th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) KC-10A Extenders. A total of 32 sorties were flown by the BUFFs while deployed for BTF.