The US Air Force has deployed two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers to a British air base for exercises with NATO allies, the Pentagon said Monday.
The deployment, which the Pentagon said was preplanned and short-term, comes against a backdrop of tension with Russia over unrest in Ukraine.
“It certainly is yet another demonstration of America’s ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance,” said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
US military deployments have increased in recent weeks as Washington seeks to reassure Eastern European allies worried about Moscow’s moves in the region.
The two B-2 bombers arrived Sunday at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England, where they joined three other B-52 strategic bombers that got there on June 4.
“These multi-role heavy bombers will conduct training flights in the US Eucom area of operation, providing opportunities for the air crews to sharpen their skills and increase interoperability,” Warren said.
Overseas deployments of the B-2 are rare, as the United States jealously guards the costly aircraft’s secrets. There are only 20 B-2s in existence.
A B-2 bomber overflew South Korea last year during an exercise amid tensions with the North.
Based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the B-2 were designed to penetrate the world’s most formidable air defenses and drop dozens of precision, conventional or nuclear bombs.