In-flight emergency forces B-52 to divert to Fairford during bomber mission to Europe


A B-52 Stratofortress from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was forced to divert to RAF Fairford in England Thursday due to an in-flight emergency.

The B-52 was one of two bombers that headed to Europe for a long-range Bomber Task Force mission to train with allies, U.S. European Command said in a release Friday.

But along the way, an emergency situation developed with one of the bombers, said Maj. Natassia Cherne, head of public affairs for the 5th Bomb Wing. EUCOM referred to the problem as a “maintenance issue,” and said the plane diverted to Fairford afterwards.

The aviation Twitter account @CivMilAir followed the B-52′s emergency as it unfolded Thursday, and reported that its call sign was CAKE11.

— CivMilAir ✈ (@CivMilAir) December 3, 2020

And the local website Gloucestershire Live reported that the B-52′s emergency was the result of engine failure.

The B-52 landed safely, Cherne said, though she did not say what the cause of the emergency was, and said it was currently under a safety investigation.

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The second bomber continued to the Barents Sea, which is off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia and on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, and integrated with Greek and Norwegian F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

The B-52 also refueled with U.S. and Turkish KC-135 Stratotankers, and immediately returned to Minot after the mission was complete.

EUCOM said Bomber Task Force missions of this kind show the Air Force’s ability to reach and strike targets around the globe with its bomber fleet.


Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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