The USAF B-2 strategic bomber finally made it’s the first-ever visit to Iceland this week. The Northrop Grumman-made, nuclear-capable warplane, which uses the callsign 'Mighty 22,' arrived at Naval Air Station, Keflavik from RAF Fairford base in the United Kingdom. The USAF has sent three B-2 Stealth bombers to RAF Fairford base as part of a series of regional training exercises involving the US and some NATO allies.

Located on the Reykjanes peninsula, Naval Air Station Keflavik is the nerve center for all US military activities in Iceland. This Naval Air Base is regularly visited by the US military forces and other NATO allies supporting the NATO Air Policing mission.

But in June 2006 the base was deactivated and all deployed rotational fighter planes left and the USAF’s 56th Rescue Squadron ceased operation. In 2017, the US government announced its intention to use the base again, expand runways and modify hangars to accommodate and support the US Navy’s P-8 Poseidon deployments in the region.

About the B-2 deployment in the region

The news about the B-2’s visit came after the US European Command confirmed in its released statement that three B-2 strategic bombers arrived at a Royal Air Force based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. The B-2 Stealth bombers came from the 509th Bomb Wing stationed at Whitman Air Force Base in Missouri, according to the online publication, The Drive.

According to the US European Command (EUCOM), the B-2 deployment to the UK base helps exercise RAF Fairford as US Air Forces in Europe’s forward operating location for US strategic bombers.

The US deployment also includes some joint and allied training in the European region to improve bomber interoperability and combat readiness, the EUCOM added.

As mentioned earlier by Sputnik News, the US and its NATO allies send a rotational deployment of fighter planes to Naval Air Station Keflavik in Iceland as part of the NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing deployment.

The allied military drills come amid the US’s effort to re-establish a larger military presence in Iceland, particularly in response to the increasing Russian naval activity.

In August 2018, the US Navy announced the reactivation of its 2nd fleet to better manage its naval operations in the North Atlantic and also to counter the growing Russian threats. In March, the USAF sent a large task force of six B-52 strategic bombers to RAF Fairford base. Three months later, the USAF sent another batch of B-52 bombers to the region to take part in a number of regional military drills, according to The Drive.

About the B-2 strategic bomber

Developed by the American defense contractor Northrop Grumman, the B-2 Stealth bomber is an all-weather, long-range, strategic bomber.

This “flying wing” features low observable stealth technology, allowing it to evade sophisticated air defense systems and even penetrate the most highly defended target.

Originally, the B-2 was designed to deliver nuclear strikes deep or take out high-level targets such as missile silos or military bases. It relies on its advanced stealth technology to avoid radar detection and missile fire throughout its mission. The plane is capable of delivering both conventional and thermonuclear weapons. It can also carry air-to-air surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

The B-2 has a top speed of over 1,010 km per hour and range of up to 11,000 km. it cost around $737 million a unit, making it the most expensive aircraft in US arsenal. The USAF currently has 21 combat-ready B-2 Stealth bombers.