By Kristina Wong - 06/09/14 11:30 AM EDT
The Air Force deployed two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to Europe over the weekend, the latest move to reassure allies and boost America's military presence on the continent after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
“This deployment of strategic bombers provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability with our allies and partners,” said Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command in a Sunday statement announcing the move.
The deployment will be “short-term” and the bombers will take part in military training exercises with allied forces in Europe.
“The training and integration of strategic forces demonstrates to our nation’s leaders and our allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and expertise to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations,” he added, as first reported by Air Force Times.
The B-2 bombers, which can deliver both conventional and nuclear munitions, are assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. They will be joining three B-52 Stratofortress aircraft already deployed to RAF Fairford, a British air base.
The bomber’s stealth characteristics allow it to “penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets,” according to the Pentagon.
Those capabilities “provide a strong, effective deterrent and combat force well into the 21st century.”
The move is the latest step to boost the U.S. military presence in Europe as allies have questioned America’s commitment to their security after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
President Obama recently proposed a $1 billion fund to bolster European security, and is increasing the number of joint exercises and sending more military equipment to Eastern Europe.