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B-52 Stratofortresses execute Saber Strike 17 missions

RAF FAIRFORD, U.K. -- RAF FAIRFORD, U.K.— Three B-52H Stratofortresses and Airmen from U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command began conducting missions in support of Saber Strike 17 at Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, June 5, 2017.

Saber Strike 17 is this year's iteration of a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise that takes place in multiple locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from May 28 to June 24.

“Our guys are pretty excited. Coming into this environment offers a setting that we’re not familiar with, prepping for the unknown,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kimmie Samuel, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons section chief. “The weather, rain, wind…this terrain is significantly different here versus back home.”

Saber Strike exercises help facilitate cooperation among NATO allies and partner nation focusing on promoting interoperability, and improving joint operational capability in a variety of missions.

“We’ll be working with BDU-50 inert munitions, concrete bombs which are general purpose unguided conventional weapons during this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Fleming Thompson, 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron wing weapons officer. “We’ll take them over to Tapa and work with NATO Joint Tactical Air Control and employ those in a joint environment.”

The inclusion of bombers in this exercise has been long-planned and provides an opportunity for bomber crews to integrate and train with other U.S. European Command components, while exercising the U.S.’ key bomber capabilities.

“We need to demonstrate that we can operate out of here, and these are good exercises that get us flying,” said Thompson. “They set a tempo. They set a bar out there for what they expect of us, and we try to get over the bar.”

Exercises such as Saber Strike provide vital opportunities, not only for multiple U.S. services to work together, but also for integrated, total force training with U.S. Reserve and Air National Guard units and our partner nations’ militaries to ensure interoperability. This cohesive effort is the bedrock of our collective military capability.