US Air Force B-2 bombers deployed to Europe have been operating together with F-15C combat aircraft and UK Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, the deputy commander of US Air Forces Europe and Africa has said.
Lieutenant General Steven Basham stressed during a phone-in roundtable with journalists on 15 September the importance of the B-2s - which are from the 509th Bomb Wing based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri - operating with the RAF F-35s, "not only as certainly a NATO ally, but the ability to be able to operate fifth-generation fighters with fifth-generation stealth technology". He cited as synergies the interoperability and force multiplier effect of their respective stealth and precision capabilities. "The capabilities of the F-35 can hold certain key targets at risk that might be a threat to most conventional assets, but when you take the F-35 and you couple that with the stealth technology of the B-2, the long range and precision weapon capability of the B-2 - not to mention the heavy payload - [and] the ability to be able to carry numerous weapons, you actually create a capability where in a short amount of time you can hold many targets at risk," Lt Gen Basham explained.
He went on to say that the B-2s, RAF F-35s, and fourth-generation F-15Cs, from the US Air Force's 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath, UK, form a strike package. "The F-15Cs are designed to set the stage for the B-2, whether using some type of stand-off weapon or even a direct attack weapon."
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