Several bombers flew from the U.S. to the North and the Baltic Seas. As they did, allied and partner jets from NATO scrambled as they intercepted the bombers in the air.
The operation is known as Polar Roar. It is actually not a mission, but a joint exercise designed for bomber crews to strengthen interoperability among key allies and partners. During the training, the U.S. bomber force was able to show it can provide a “flexible and vigilant long-range global-strike capability” should the need arise in the future.
For this training scenario, the U.S. Air Force said that they had utilized a B-52 Stratofortress from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La along with two B-52’s from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, N.D. as well as two B-2 Spirits from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo. Their task was to conduct non-stop, simultaneous flights that would take off from the U.S. to the North and Baltic Seas, as well as around the North Pole and Alaska.
For the Air Policing mission, NATO said it utilized its Air Surveillance and Control System, Air Command and Control as well as Air Defense assets (such as interceptors) located in the alliance’s Combined Air Operations Center-Uedem.
“Our Air Policing assets in Northern Europe and throughout the region embraced the unique training event which further enhanced our ability to preserve NATO airspace integrity,” explained AIRCOM Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Kevin Huyck.
It seems that for NATO, it is important to keep training in the face of recent aggressive actions by Russia in the Baltics. As former NATO General, Sir Richard Shirreff, put it in his new book, Russia is a formidable enemy who cannot be stopped by nuclear deterrence alone.
Shirreff also told Newsweek, “Russia despises weakness and respects strength.”