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US Bombers Arrive in Europe for Exercise to Deter Russia

FILE -- A B-1B Lancer is parked on the flightline at Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, June 9, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Curt Beach)
FILE -- A B-1B Lancer is parked on the flightline at Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, June 9, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Curt Beach)

Two B-1B Lancer bombers and one B-52 Stratofortress touched down at at Royal Air Force Fairford in the United Kingdom on Wednesday for exercises meant to deter Russian resurgence, U.S. European Command said.

The long-range B-1Bs, from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, and the B-52 from the Reserve Command's 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, are scheduled to participate in Exercise Ample Strike 2017 in the Czech Republic from Aug. 28 to Sept. 9, the command said in an announcement.

The news comes a day before Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to meet with his counterparts in Ukraine in an effort to "reassure our Ukrainian partners that the U.S. remains firmly committed to the goal of restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Defense Department said Friday.

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The same type of aircraft last year participated in Ample Strike, an annual Czech Republic-led exercise. The supersonic B-1s and Cold War-era B-52 conducted simulated drills aimed to train partners in air-land scenarios, U.S. Air Forces Europe said at the time.

The latest training event comes after a series of U.S. and European-led summertime exercises, which have gained more scrutiny since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

In June, the U.S. sent two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to join B-1Bs and B-52s already in the theater for military reinforcement, marking the first time all three aircraft have been in the theater at the same time.

The nuclear-capable B-2s, however, only briefly joined the other Air Force Global Strike Command assets "in support of recurring bomber assurance and deterrence operations," EUCOM said at the time, and did not stick around for exercises such as BALTOPS or Saber Strike.

The B-1Bs and B-52 this year are also expected to conduct flyovers at the Slovak International Air Fest at Sliač Air Base, Slovakia and the Radom International Air Show at the 42nd Air Training Base, Radom-Sadkow, Poland, from Aug. 26 to 27, EUCOM said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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