B 52 bomber aircraft in flight over southern England.
Washington (CNN)In a major show of force, the US military flew nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over every single member of the 30 nation NATO alliance on Friday.
The demonstration of American military capability comes amid ongoing tensions with Russia and lingering questions about the Trump administration’s commitment to the alliance following a recent decision to reduce US troop levels in Europe.”Six U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers will fly over all 30 NATO nations in Europe and North America on August 28,” US European Command said in a statement Friday.
Two of the bombers based at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota will fly over the US and Canada while the other four B-52s which are currently deployed to the UK will fly over the other 28 NATO member states.”Today the US shows their powerful commitment to #NATO with six B-52 bombers overflying all 30 Allies,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted Friday.Read MoreMilitary aircraft from some 19 NATO countries will integrate and fly alongside the American bombers during their mission.The B-52 bombers “will be accompanied by dozens of aircraft from across the Alliance. Working together, we fulfill our core mission: to deter aggression, prevent conflict & preserve peace,” Stoltenberg said.Some of the allied aircraft that joined the bomber flight included F-16 jets from Poland and JAS-39 fighter aircraft from the Czech Republic.The US commitment to NATO has been called into question following President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of member countries for not meeting the recommended alliance target of 2% of GDP on defense.Trump directed the Pentagon to substantially cut the number of US troops in Germany, returning many of them back to the US, a move that Trump said was due to Berlin’s failure to spend 2% of its GDP on defense.Trump took the opportunity during his speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday to tout increased defense spending by NATO countries as proof that his criticism of the alliance had resulted in a desired effect of boosting its military capabilities.But he falsely claimed NATO members had agreed to pay $130 billion more a year. As CNN’s Daniel Dale noted Stoltenberg explained during a meeting with Trump on December 3, 2019, that by the end of 2020 non-US NATO members would have added a total of $130 billion to their defense budgets since 2016, not $130 billion per year.