Story by Amn Jacob Wrightsman on 06/14/2019B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale in conjunction with forces from Croatia, Italy and Slovenia with more than 30 U.S. Air Force aircraft, executed exercise Astral Knight 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and various locations across Europe, June 2019.
Over 900 Airmen engaged in a joint-multinational exercise led by U.S. Air Forces in Europe, which aimed to demonstrate the defense capabilities of the U.S. integrated air and missile defense systems while supporting the collective defense and security of NATO allies and U.S. forces in Europe.
"The benefit of working with other branches and nations for Astral Knight is ensuring regional cooperation of NATO allies," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Robert Umholtz, USAFE Air Forces Africa A37 exercise planner. "This is a U.S. led exercise but the more we integrate 5th generation [aircraft] as we go forward, the better we're able to operate as an air force, joint force and coalition partnership."
Fifth generation aircraft include the F-35 Lightning II, which flew alongside F-16 Fighting Falcons, KC-135 Stratotankers, E-3 Sentry aircraft and B-52's from right here at Barksdale.
The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters), and can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.
Multinational exercises, like Astral Knight, improve overall coordination between NATO allies to show how the U.S. and Europe are mutually committed to deter adversaries and defend regional security in an increasingly complex environment.