EDIT: We suspected that this integration sortie was the first occasion that the B-2s had operated with the front-line jets of any friendly nation, so asked the USAF for comment. In an exclusive reveal, a USAF spokesperson told Britain at War: “We can factually say it’s the first time the B-2 has flown in formation with an allied aircraft, but not the first integration effort with an allied nation.”
For the first time, the RAF’s F-35B Lightning’s have conducted exercises with two of the USAF’s B-2 Spirit stealth bombers in the first for the new RAF fast jet.
It is also the first time that the unusual visitors have trained alongside non-US F-35s.
The iconic bombers have been deployed to RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, for a series of training exercises to take place across Europe as part of continuous effort to enhance the USAF’s and RAF’s complimentary partnership and also both nation’s contribution to NATO. The F-35s and B-2s have been operating together on integration sorties.
In July, the USAF marked the 30th anniversary of the B-2’s first flight. Since entering service in the late 1990s, the strategic bomber has been the vanguard of the USAF’s conventional bombing operations, seeing service during the Kosovo War and over Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
The F-35 is the RAF’s first stealth aircraft and currently 18 are in service. The British are expected to procure 138 of the fifth-gen multi-role aircraft and according to an article in The Times, the F-35B was declared combat ready by the RAF in January 2019.