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US Bombers to Buzz Europe in Show-of-Force Exercise

Three U.S. long-range bombers will be flying over the Czech Republic this week for Joint Terminal Attack Controller Exercise Ample Strike, U.S. European Command announced this weekend.

Two Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and a single B-52 Stratofortress from the 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, deployed to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, last week for the NATO exercise, which kicked off Aug. 30.

The Czechs are hosting the exercise, aimed to train partners in air-land scenarios, for the third time, according to NATO. The bombers will conduct day and night operations Sept. 5-16, EUCOM said. Approximately 300 participants from 18 countries will attend.

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The Air Force also is adding air-to-air refueling missions during tactical aircraft and bomber missions. "US Air Force KC-135R tankers will refuel not only the German Tornado jets, Czech and Hungarian Gripen aircraft, but also US Air Force strategic bombers," Col. Zdenek Bauer of the Czech Air Force Command, the exercise director, said in a release. Two KC-135s will be stationed at the Czech's Pardubice airport, and five U.S. AH-64 Apache attack helicopters will be in the Libavá Military training area. 

Bauer clarified the strategic bombers, "just like any other aircraft flying in from abroad" will not be carrying armed weapons.

The Stratofortress and Lancers are also scheduled to participate in the Czech Republic-hosted NATO Air Days Sept. 13-19 in Ostrava.

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