The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft to the US European Command area of operations to take part in theatre integration and flying training.

The bomber task force includes airmen and support equipment from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, US. The aircraft will operate out of RAF Fairford, UK.

According to the USAF, the deployment will help ‘exercise RAF Fairford as USAF in Europe’s forward operating location for bombers’.

Aircraft and personnel will participate in joint and allied training in the US European Command theatre to enhance bomber interoperability.

In a statement, the USAF said: “Training with joint partners, allied nations and other USAF units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.”

“US aircraft regularly operate in the South China Sea in support of allies, partners, and a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

According to the service, the missions are held in different geographic locations to familiarise aircrew with bases and operations in different geographic combatant commands.

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According to media sources, the contingent includes up to six B-52 bombers.

Meanwhile, reports also suggested that two B-52 bombers were sighted near disputed islands in the South China Sea.

A US Pacific Air Forces spokesperson was quoted by media sources as saying: “Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and conducted routine training in the vicinity of the South China Sea March 13, 2019 (HST), before returning to base.

“US aircraft regularly operate in the South China Sea in support of allies, partners, and a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The incident marks the second time the US has sent the bomber aircraft to the disputed region this month.