Four US Air Force B-1 bombers, built in Palmdale, are being deployed to Norway to strengthen America’s stance against Russian aggression.
The project story is part of a strong effort to notify Russia that the US military will operate in the strategically important Arctic region and demonstrate that it will defend allies in the area against any Russian aggression close to the country’s border.
In the late 1970s, President Gerald Ford ordered the B-1 development project. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter canceled production of the B-1 six months after Ford’s approval.
The union’s Local 887, which represented Rockwell workers all over Southern California, had more than 21,000 workers before Carter nixed the bomber. By 1981, the worker count was 8,000.
President Ronald Reagan then ordered a purchase of 100 B-1 bombers.
In the early 1980s, nearly 2,000 members of the National Press Corps visited the Valley to watch the space shuttle Columbia land at Edwards Air Force Base.
The four B-1 bombers now, in 2021, and approximately 200 personnel from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, are being deployed to Orland Air Base in Norway and within the next three weeks, missions will begin in the Arctic Circle and in international airspace off northwestern Russia, according to multiple defense officials.
Until now, military missions over the Arctic had been largely staged out of the United Kingdom. The movement of forces much closer to Russia means the US will be able to react more quickly to potential Russia aggression, officials say.
For the last several months, the Pentagon has operated similar groups of B-52 bombers in the Middle East as a means of demonstrating the ability of the US to quickly move military assets to potentially tense regions. These bomber missions take weeks to plan, so the Norway deployment has been in the works for some time, officials say.
President Joe Biden has already demonstrated he is prepared to adopt a tougher approach to Moscow than under his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Biden, in a phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, confronted him over a range of issues from a recent massive cyberattack, to the suspected poisoning of Russia’s leading opposition figure.
The US Defense Department has been deeply concerned about Russian military moves to shut off potential access to the Arctic for natural resources and maritime access as it continues to militarize the Arctic region.