B-1B Lancers fly over North Pole, join Norway's air force in training

Two B-1B Lancers flew directly over the North Pole to Greenland, part of a two-week training mission, the U.S. Air Force announced on Wednesday.

The bombers, from the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, which headquartered at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, conducted interoperability training exercises with the Norwegian Air Force on Sept. 25, part of a mission that began on Sept. 10.

Operating from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, the 16-hour, 6,100-nautical-mile trip involved air refueling support above the Arctic Circle, and a day of training with Norwegian forces over the Norwegian Sea and off the Greenland coast.

The training comes as the Arctic Ocean region has become a strategic hot spot for potential conflict, military officials have said repeatedly. The United States' 2018 National Defense Strategy reoriented the military's focus from the Middle East to near-peer concerns in Asia and Europe.

"Our corporate knowledge of Arctic operations in theB-1 is not as robust as it is for other regions of the world, and we fully intend to share our insights with the rest of the B-1 enterprise upon our return," Lt. Col. Andrew Marshall, 345th EBS operations director, said in a statement on Wednesday. "The knowledge and experience we have gained can and will be leveraged for immediate and lasting effect in this community."

Norway, a NATO member, has increased its air capabilities and its air force will have a fleet of 52 F-35 fighter planes by 2025.

In May 2020, two U.S. B-1B Lancers of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., conducted a long-range Bomber Task Force mission to the Nordic region. The bombers visited Norwegian airspace, and integrated and trained with four Norwegian F-35s.

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