These are the 4 most savage attack helicopters of all time

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, U.S. Air Force Airmen and Aids from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, arrived in the UK for a Bomber Task Force deployment on August 27, 2019.

It is not the first time that B-2s have flown out of RAF Fairford, the Air Force’s front-line location for the bombers.

The presence is a “continuation” of what the US military and European partners have been doing since Russia conquered Crimea in 2014, said Jim Townsend, deputy senior fellow in the Center for New American Security’s Transatlantic Security Program. “It’s about continuing to show that we can operate at any level, whether it’s a B-2 or a lower level. [and] Then we can operate in Europe where we need it, including in the Arctic. “

But within days of their arrival, the B-2s had done some new things that might have been as much a matter of sending a message to rivals as it was of testing pilots and crews.

“With B-2s and bombers, it was always about signaling as well as capability,” said Christopher Skaluba, director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

See what the B-2 were up to and who their message is for.

Airman 1st Class Austin Sawchuk, a crew chief assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, marches in a B-2 on the RAF Fairford airline on August 27, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt.Kayla White)

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber lands at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland on August 28, 2019. It was the first landing of the B-2 bomber in Iceland.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

A day after arriving in the UK, a B-2 landed in Iceland – the first time the bomber had been there.

The deployment of “strategic bombers in Iceland will help utilize Keflavik Air Base as the forward location for the B-2 and ensure that it is deployed, positioned and ready with credible force,” US Air Forces Europe said in a caption on one of the attached photos.

Despite this formulation, “Iceland is not viewed as a forward-operating location similar to RAF Fairford,” said a US Air Forces Europe statement sent by email.

“Training outside of the United States enables aircrews and Airmen to familiarize themselves with other theaters and the airspace, and enhances the enduring skills and relationships required to address a wide range of global challenges in support of the National Defense Strategy,” it says in the declaration.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

509th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel distribution operators refuel on a B-2 bomber at Keflavik Air Base in the hot pit on August 28, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

The U.S. Air Force fuel distribution operators refuel on a B-2 at Keflavik Air Base in the hot pit on August 28, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

On the maritime borders between the North Atlantic and the Arctic, Iceland is also likely to offer “geographic advantages in terms of Russian concerns,” Skaluba said. “For certain missions or certain mission sets, there is likely to be a small benefit [Keflavik] over British bases. “

Russian armed forces are increasingly active in the North Atlantic, the North Sea, the Arctic, the Norwegian Sea and the GIUK Gap, which refers to the waters between Greenland, Iceland and Great Britain – “that is, in and around Iceland with their own species of high-end capabilities, including nuclear submarines and advanced fighters, “said Skaluba.

“So I think this is a signal that the US, UK, [and] NATO is watching Russia closely and clearly: “Hey, we can compare you to high-end capabilities in this region,” said Skaluba.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber taxis at Keflavik Air Base, August 28, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

The message can’t just be for Russia.

“There is a lot of Chinese investment,” said Skaluba. “There is a big Chinese embassy in Reykjavik. I think it is primarily about the Russians, but there is clearly a broader signal and I don’t think it is a mistake that there is a large Chinese presence in Reykjavik and that we the bombers landed there. “

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

The British F-35B Lightning fighter planes will fly for the first time with US Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers on August 29, 2019.

(US Air Force / UK Department of Defense)

One day after Iceland landed, B-2s flew with the Royal Air Force F-35B along the English coast. It was the first time the stealth bomber had flown with the British Joint Strike Fighter – and with a non-US F-35.

Source: Der Luftfahrtist

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A US Air Force B-2 Spirit flies with two RAF F-35 jets over the English countryside near Dover on August 29, 2019.

(US Air Force / UK Department of Defense)

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

Two US Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers fly alongside two RAF F-35B Lightnings near the White Cliffs of Dover on August 29, 2019.

(US Air Force / UK Department of Defense)

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A US Air Force B-2 Spirit flies with two RAF F-35 jets along the English coast near Dover.

(US Air Force / UK Department of Defense)

Like the B-2, the F-35 is a stealth aircraft designed to evade air defense systems such as those stationed across Europe, particularly Russian systems across Eastern Europe.

Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad is teeming with anti-entry / denial or A2 / AD weapons, and Moscow has added such A2 / AD systems to Crimea since its seizure in 2014.

Russian A2 / AD ability [runs] from the far north through Kaliningrad, down to the Crimea and down to [Russia’s] Base in Tartus in Syria, ”said Ben Hodges, former commander of the US Army in Europe, to Business Insider at the end of 2018 and created what is known as the“ Arc of A2 / AD ”.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A U.S. Air Force B-2 bomber over the English countryside near Dover, August 29, 2019.

(Royal Air Force)

The first joint flight of its kind also came at a time when the special US-UK relationship may not have been in the best shape, Skaluba added.

“This is kind of a reminder that the UK is the preferred US partner for security and defense, and frankly the UK is one of the few military in the world who can … operate with the US at the upper end of the capability spectrum.” Said Skaluba.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 Spirit approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker for fuel over the Norwegian Sea on September 5, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt.Jordan Castelan)

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 Spirit approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker for refueling over the Norwegian Sea on September 5, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt.Jordan Castelan)

The US has been more active in the Arctic in recent years, largely out of concerns about competition in the region, particularly with Russia and China, as climate change makes them more accessible.

In October 2018, a US aircraft carrier sailed over the Arctic Circle for the first time since the Cold War.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 Spirit approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Norwegian Sea on September 5, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt.Jordan Castelan)

The B-2’s first Arctic flight may have been made possible by changed conditions. “But it’s really about the signaling,” said Skaluba.

The US, NATO and the Arctic countries are concerned “that Russia is more aggressive on the Arctic security front,” and China has sought a greater role in the region. “We see competitors moving to the Arctic in different ways,” said Skaluba.

Russia has an arctic border with Norway, Sweden and Finland. All three countries are located near the base of the Kola Peninsula, where both the Russian Northern Fleet and storage and test facilities for nuclear weapons are located.

Norway is the only one of the three countries that is a member of NATO, but all of the Nordic countries have been closely monitoring Russian missile tests in the region and their arctic forces.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 Spirit approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Norwegian Sea on September 5, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt.Jordan Castelan)

“There was a time right after Crimea when the Obama administration did not want to do anything to provoke the Russians,” Townsend said.

“Sending only B-52s across the Baltic Sea was something that needed to be sorted out at a fairly high level,” Townsend said, adding that it has always been recognized not to want to provoke Russia by sending bombers close to its borders . “For some reason it must have felt like it was worth doing this this time.”

Skaluba also noted a recent speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of the Arctic Council in which Pompeo said the Arctic has “become an arena of global power and competition”.

Within the eight-member Arctic Council, which includes Russia, “there is still a lot of practical cooperation … but I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Pompeo pissed everyone off … to talk about it [how] We have to talk about security issues and then the US sends some large military assets into the region. “

“I think it’s a bit like a drum beat or a slap on the table from the US that we have to think about the Arctic just to be on the safe side, and we will do it on our own no matter what anyone else is doing. But it is undoubtedly a clear signal to the Russians and the Chinese. “

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 stealth bomber takes off from Lajes field in the Azores, Portugal on September 9, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Ricky Baptista)

The B-2 continued training in Europe in September, including a trip to the Azores where the bombers performed a hot-pit refueling, where the ground crew refuel an aircraft while the engines are running so it can blow up again as quickly as possible.

“As the fulcrum of the Atlantic Air Bridge, Lajes Field provides the US Department of Defense and the Allied Nations with a power projection platform for credible forces across Europe and Africa,” US Air Forces Europe said in a press release.

These are the 4 wildest attack helicopters of all time

A B-2 performs a touch-and-go at RAF Fairford on September 11, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

The bombers also conducted touch-and-go exercises at Fairford, during which the bombers land and take off again without stopping, allowing pilots to practice many landings in a short period of time.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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