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Three US Stealth Bombers – costing $2.1bn EACH – take off from RAF air base for training in Europe

Three US Stealth bombers, which cost $2.1billion each and $135,000 an hour to operate, have been pictured taking part in a European training mission above the skies of Dover.

The United States Air Force B2 Spirit bombers, designed to be virtually undetectable to radar and carry 20 tonnes of nuclear or conventional bombs, were filmed arriving under cover of darkness on Tuesday night at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. 

They are in Europe to take part in ‘long planned’ NATO training missions with their European allies, according to a Royal Air Force spokesman.

Incredible pictures show two of the bombers flying alongside two Royal Air Force F-35B lightning jets from RAF Marham, near the White cliffs of Dover and above a wind farm as they conduct an integrated flying practice.

This is the first time the US bombers have trained with non-US F-35’s.

Three US Stealth bombers have been pictured taking part in an integrated flying practice with two Royal Air Force F-35 lightning jets in the skies of Dover (Pictured: One B2 spirit bomber and two RAF F-35’s fly over the English channel near Dover)

The B2 spirit bombers, which cost $1.2billion each and an estimated $135,000 an hour to run, have been designed to be virtually invisible to radar and to be capable of evading air defence systems. (Pictured: Two B2 Spirit bombers and two RAF F-35 lightning jets take part in a training flight above the white cliffs of Dover today)

The B2 spirit bombers, which cost $1.2billion each and an estimated $135,000 an hour to run, have been designed to be virtually invisible to radar and to be capable of evading air defence systems. (Pictured: Two B2 Spirit bombers and two RAF F-35 lightning jets take part in a training flight above the white cliffs of Dover today)

The bombers touched down in RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday night. The base is used by the bombers as it has a longer runway than other air force bases and climate-controlled B2 aircraft hangars. (Pictured: A B2 Spirit bomber flies through the skies above the UK)

The bombers touched down in RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday night. The base is used by the bombers as it has a longer runway than other air force bases and climate-controlled B2 aircraft hangars. (Pictured: A B2 Spirit bomber flies through the skies above the UK)

The planes arrived in the UK using the callsigns DEATH 1, DEATH 2 and DEATH 3. Footage shows the planes on the specially-designed long runway shortly after arrival.

With a 172-foot wingspan and a design that allows them to travel 10,000 miles with only one mid-air re-fueling, so that they could bypass Soviet air defence systems, they are one of the most deadly warplane models in the sky.

After the planes failed to materialise at RIAT this year aviation fans were left wondering when they would next come to the UK, following a visit last year and a posting at RAF Fairford the year before.

The base is one of the few places where the distinctive weapons, which have smooth flat wings with sharp angular edges to deflect radar, can land as it has a long runway and specially-built climate-controlled B2 hangers.

They touched down in the UK at 1am on Tuesday night.

An airfield spokesman said: ‘The United States Air Force are deploying a variety of aircraft and support personnel to RAF Fairford during August and September 2019.’

‘While deployed to the UK the aircraft will conduct a series of training activities in Europe, these activities are long planned.’

They are capable of carrying nuclear bombs as well as conventional explosives and were designed to be able to deliver a payload to the Soviet Union as they could evade their air defence system due to their ability to fly 10,000 miles and only need to refuel once (Pictured: A B2 Spirit bomber swoops above the Dover shoreline)

They are capable of carrying nuclear bombs as well as conventional explosives and were designed to be able to deliver a payload to the Soviet Union as they could evade their air defence system due to their ability to fly 10,000 miles and only need to refuel once (Pictured: A B2 Spirit bomber swoops above the Dover shoreline)

The US initially ordered 132 of the mighty 172-foot wingspan warplanes (one is pictured here flying over the windfarms near Dover) before cutting the order to just 20 following the collapse of the Soviet Union

The US initially ordered 132 of the mighty 172-foot wingspan warplanes (one is pictured here flying over the windfarms near Dover) before cutting the order to just 20 following the collapse of the Soviet Union

A B2 Spirit fighter flying above the white cliffs of Dover with two RAF F-35 lightning jets. It touched down in the UK with two others at 1am on Tuesday night

A B2 Spirit fighter flying above the white cliffs of Dover with two RAF F-35 lightning jets. It touched down in the UK with two others at 1am on Tuesday night

Two B2 bombers are shown here flying with two F-35 RAF lightning jets above the white cliffs of Dover. An RAF spokesman confirmed that they had come to the UK to take part in NATO training exercises

Two B2 bombers are shown here flying with two F-35 RAF lightning jets above the white cliffs of Dover. An RAF spokesman confirmed that they had come to the UK to take part in NATO training exercises

The planes have previously been used for combat in Kosovo, where they bombed Serbian forces as NATO countered ethnic cleansing in the region, to take out Taliban targets in Afghanistan, and more recently to hit ISIS positions in Syria. (Pictured: Two Stealth bombers with two F-35 lightning jets flying along the Dover coastline

The planes have previously been used for combat in Kosovo, where they bombed Serbian forces as NATO countered ethnic cleansing in the region, to take out Taliban targets in Afghanistan, and more recently to hit ISIS positions in Syria. (Pictured: Two Stealth bombers with two F-35 lightning jets flying along the Dover coastline

They are a small part of a US fleet of 20 Stealth Bombers, the country’s most technologically advanced aircraft ever made, which are based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. 

First designed under the Carter Administration, originally 132 were ordered by the United States. However, this was quickly scaled back following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Since then the Stealth bombers have been used in fighting over Kosovo, where they bombed Serbian forces as NATO countered ethnic cleansing in the region, to take out Taliban targets in Afghanistan, and more recently to hit ISIS positions in Syria. 

The distinctive planes, which have a smooth surface and sharp edges to deflect radar, were pictured arriving at RAF Fairfold, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday night

The distinctive planes, which have a smooth surface and sharp edges to deflect radar, were pictured arriving at RAF Fairfold, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday night

They came to the base as it has a specially designed longer runway and two climate-controlled B2 aircraft hangars

They came to the base as it has a specially designed longer runway and two climate-controlled B2 aircraft hangars

B-2 SPIRIT: MOST EXPENSIVE AIRCRAFT EVER, BUILT TO DROP ARMAGEDDON ON THE SOVIETS 

The B-2 Spirit is the U.S. Air Force’s deadliest and most expensive plane – a Cold Warrior’s invention which has since been used to bomb the Taliban and ISIS.

Each of the 20 operational B-2s is valued at $2.1 billion, and putting one in the air costs an estimated $135,000 an hour, and cannot function in the rain.

On board its flight crew of two can stay in the air for 33 hours, at the controls of a plane designed to sneak into Soviet territory unseen to drop nuclear bombs, then return to the U.S. in a single flight.

The B-2s were first designed under the Carter administration, came close to being canceled, and finally took flight for the first time in 1989, just as the Soviet Union they were supposed to fight was collapsing, entering Air Force service in 1997.  

They have been used to fight in Kosovo, where they bombed Serbian forces as NATO moved in to counter ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Albanian minority, and in the war on terror, taking out Taliban targets in Afghanistan and most recently ISIS positions in Syria.

All are currently based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, meaning that the one designated to fly over the Mall is flying 1,042miles to D.C. for the spectacle. 

If it flies low enough it will be visible from the ground, but it is almost invisible on radar, with its stealth design making it look like a pigeon on radar screens.

SPECIFICATIONS: 

Aircrew:  2

Top speed: 628mph 

Range: 6,000 nautical miles, and refuels approximately every six hours 

Length: 69ft

Wingspan: 172ft

Weight: 158,100lbs 

Weapons: B61 and B83 nuclear bombs, MK84 conventional bomb, MK82 and CBU-87 conventional weapons and AGM-129 advanced cruise missile

How many: 20 operational 

Costs: $135,000 an hour to operate, making it roughly twice as expensive to operate as the B-52 or B-1  

From a range of 6,000 miles to 518 miles and the ability to carry nuclear weapons: How the two warplane types flying above Dover compare

 B2 Spirit bomber

Top Speed: 628mph

Range: 6,000 miles without re-fuelling or 10,000 with re-fuelling

Weapons: B61 and B83 nuclear bombs, MK84 conventional bomb, MK82 and CBU-87 conventional weapons and AGM-129 advanced cruise missile

Aircrew: Two 

Wingspan: 172ft

Length: 69ft

How many?: 20 currently operational in the US, 0 currently operational in the UK

Costs: As much as $135,000 an hour to operate, making it roughly twice as expensive as the B-52 or B-1

F-35 lightning jet

Top Speed: 1,200mph

Range: More than 518 miles can be covered without re-fuelling

Weapons: Two air-to-air missiles and two bombs. Underwing pylons enable the plane to carry a 15,000lb payload

Aircrew: One

Wingspan: 51.2ft 

Length: 35ft

How many?: More than 19 currently operational in the US and nine currently operational in the UK

Cost: Unknown

A B2 Spirit bomber, owned by the US, flying in the skies above Dover

An F-35 Lightning jet preparing for take off on the UK's new aircraft carrier named as Queen Elizabeth II

A B2 Spirit bomber (left) pictured flying above Dover and an F-35 lightning jet (right) preparing for take off on the UK’s new aircraft carrier, named Queen Elizabeth II

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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