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B-52's at Fairford

Click here for the photo's


For the operation 'Iraq Freedom' an enormous buildup of coalition forces was initiated. Not only in the Gulf region but also at other locations, like Bulgaria (KC-10), Spain (KC-10 and KC-135), Turkey (KC-130,F-16, EA-6B) and United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, the main offensive buildup was the deployment of 14 B-52H to RAF Fairford (Gloustershire). On March 3rd 2003, the BUFF's (BUFF is a nickname for the B-52, "Big Ugly Fat ....'Fellow'") arrived at RAF Fairford with RIPPER callsigns. The B-52's belong to 23 Bomber Squadron of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot (coded 'MT') in North Dakota. And they were part of the 457th Air Expeditionary Group of the US Air Force After their arrival some familiarisation flights were made, to get aquainted with the local weather and regulations. All the B-52's are over 40 years of age, whereby the aircraft are often older than the pilots at the controls. Tankers A week after the arrival of the B-52's, 18 KC-135's from the Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Kansas Air National Guard were deployed to RAF Mildenhall (Suffolk) in the UK. When the operation 'Iraq Freedom' really started, the KC-135's were used to support the B-52's with air-to-air refueling (AAR). After take-off the B-52's flew to the refueling point were the KC-135's were waiting for one of the many AAR's during the 14 hour missions.


All the KC-135's used callsigns in the Terry range (Terry61, Terry62 etc). The B-52's used Rattler,Wilcox callsigns in the first week. After that they switched callsigns daily (Lopez, Ethan, Facet, Wokey). These callsigns could be heard very well during their flights to and from Fairford.


The missions lasted sometimes over 14 hours, with many Air-to-Air refuelings. After dropping their ordnance, there were sometimes problems with some unreleased boms on the way back. These unreleased bombs were discarded over the sea near the UK before landing. Most used armement was the 'smart' JDAM bombs. Located in the internal bombbay and at the 2 external pylons. During the last days of the war, many B-52's returned with their full external bombload, As can be seen at the photo's. Giving some extra stress for the big yellow brake-chute that deployed after landing. After a few weeks, some relief B-52's arrived from 93 BS at Barksdale

At end ofApril the B-52's are on their way back to the US, because the war in Irak is over. All photo's:
G.J.A. van Boven
Place: 20030412
Date: RAF Fairford (UK)
© Sentry Aviation News

(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_60060-1_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_60060-2_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_60060-3_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_60060-4_jvb_mt01.jpg
(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_60060-5_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_61008-1_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_61008-3_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_takeoff_jvb_mt01.jpg(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_takeoff-2_jvb_mt01.jpg

B-52 photo du mois at Delta Reflex
landingSound of a B-52 during landing, 20030412 EGVA
takeoffSound of a B-52 during take-off, 20030412 EGVA
Sounds recorded by S. Schakenraad.


At RAF Fairford there were very strict security precautions. At some 50 positions around the field, a police van with 10-12 police officers was stationed, for 24 hours per day. Inside the fence of the base , some additional 40 kilometers of NATO razor-blade barb-wire was positioned. In combination with automatic bodyheat and movement detection devices. (c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_device_jvb_mt01.jpg By car and by foot RAF and USAF military police patrolled at the inside of the fence. Some construction-work elevators were used to give the security forces the oportunity to look from above. Near the dispersals of the B-52's, the last line with USAF military guards was located. And these USAF guards had the license to use deadly force, in case a threat for a B-52 was detetcted. A HH-60 helicopter was used to overfly the perimiter of the base at regular intervals.
61-0008/BD B-52H 93 BS
61-0021/BD B-52H 93 BS
60-0060/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0044/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0033/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0015/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0004/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0005/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0023/MT B-52H 5 BW
60-0034/MT B-52H 5 BW
61-0027/MT B-52H 5 BW
61-0040/MT B-52H 5 BW

And a word of thank to the very gentle Northumbria Police police force, for sharing their surplus lunch-bags with us.
(c)Sentry Aviation News, 20030412_egva_usaf_b52h_police_jvb_mt01.jpg

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