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Putin on notice: Two U.S. stealth bombers head to Europe for first time amid tension

A B-2 Spirit multi-role bomber conducts air refueling operations with a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Pacific on April 4, 2005. (Image: Department of Defense)A B-2 Spirit multi-role bomber conducts air refueling operations with a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Pacific on April 4, 2005. (Image: Department of Defense)
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Two U.S. B-2 Spirit stealth bombers are being deployed to Europe for the first time. The deployment of the advanced aircraft will be used for "short term deployment" at Fairford, a Royal Air Force base in England — just three hours from Russia.

"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 U.S. Strategic Command, CNN reported Tuesday.

"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 continued.

The radar-evading B-2 bombers are likely being used as a show of force to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine after the Russia's recent annexation of Crimea.

The stealth bombers, which can carry up to 50,000 pounds of bombs, assisted Europe and NATO allies in 1999 with targeting bombing runs in Serbia, but they were operating at the time out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, the International Business Times reported Tuesday. The round-trip missions lasted 30 hours.

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