US, Russia Create Bomber Exchange Program

A delegation from Barksdale AFB, La., visited Engels Air Base in Saratov, Russia, establishing the foundation for a US-Russia long-range aviation bomber exchange program, announced Air Force Global Strike Command officials. “We’re going to fly B-52s to Russia and they’re going to fly Tu-95 Bears to Barksdale,” said 2nd Bomb Wing Commander Col. Andrew Gebara, who led the Barksdale group, in an Aug. 8 release. He added, “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our two nations to learn from each other to improve aviation technology and skills in our respective air forces.” During the July visit, the seven-member US delegation evaluated Engels airfield to see if it was suitable for B-52H operations. “One of the big takeaways from our trip is that while we fly different aircraft and are from opposite ends of the globe, our objective is the same,” said Lt. Col. Michael Thompson, 2nd BW director of staff, who was with the delegation. “We all want to have a safe and credible deterrent force.” (Barksdale report by A1C Samuel O’Brien)