Feedback has been “tremendous” on the just-concluded training deployment of B-2 and B-52 bombers to RAF Fairford, England, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, on Tuesday. Speaking at an AFA-sponsored event in Arlington, Va., Wilson said he expected the Air Force to start rotating bombers more frequently to Europe, Asia, and other regions. “This is about building habitual training relationships,” he said. Following the roundtrip training flights of two B-2s from Missouri to South Korea in March 2013, Wilson said service leadership discussed how exercise cutbacks due to budget sequestration had affected readiness in the bomber force, and how to make sure training gaps did not persist. Wilson said the Air Force has since put in place a mechanism that guarantees bombers will regularly deploy forward for training. This mechanism ensures regular deployments to the various geographic combatant commands’ areas of responsibility every year. “We don’t have the luxury of time to get ready,” said Wilson. “We can’t just be current, we have to be proficient,” he said.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.