Bombers Around the World: B-1s Land in Spain, B-52s at Diego Garcia

U.S. Air Force bombers deployed across the globe this past weekend, as two B-52 Stratofortresses landed at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean on March 22 and two B-1 Lancers landed at Morón Air Base, Spain, on March 24. 

The pair of Bomber Task Force deployments, more than 5,000 miles apart, give Air Force Global Strike Command a presence in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, with relatively easy access to the Middle East as well. 

The B-52s flew into Diego Garcia from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., after a 30-hour direct flight. It is the first time the Air Force has announced a Bomber Task Force to Diego Garcia—a tiny island that is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory that services as a key base for the U.S. and U.K. militaries, which hosted American troops since the 1970s. B-1s landed there in 2021, and the last time a B-52 landed there was in 2020. 

“This deployment aims to enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe, demonstrating the credibility of our forces to address a global security environment that is more diverse and uncertain than at any other time in recent history,” Pacific Air Forces stated in a release

While the island is in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, the Air Force has used the island in the past as a base to send bombers into the U.S. Central Command area of operations. 

This latest bomber deployment for PACAF comes on the heels of B-52s from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., deploying to Guam at the end of January and operating there until March 6. 

The B-1s that landed in Spain came from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. While deployed, they will “generate sorties out of Morón AB and operate alongside numerous Allies and partners to increase interoperability and assure security commitments across the United States European Command area of responsibility,” a release from U.S. Air Forces in Europe stated

Reuters reported March 24 that the Russian defense ministry announced it scrambled a MiG-31 fighter to intercept two B-1 bombers headed toward the Russian border over the Barents Sea—the bombers reportedly turned around short of the border. Online flight trackers noted the bombers then flew on to Morón. USAFE did not immediately reply to a query from Air & Space Forces Magazine. 

As with PACAF, USAFE just recently had bombers in the region when B-1s from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., deployed to Sweden for a Bomber Task Force in late February before leaving March 1. 

The last Bomber Task Force deployment to Spain took place in March 2023.