US B1-B Lancers flying over Estonia Wednesday

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Rockwell B-1B Bomber. Source: USAF/Wikimedia Commons

United States Air Force Rockwell B-1B Lancer bombers are to fly over Estonia Wednesday, as part of a task force exercise, the United States embassy in Tallinn says.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander Gen. Jeff Harrigian said: "This mission sends a clear message that our commitment to our NATO allies is unshakeable."

"We're in this together to get after the mission and pursue our shared goal of regional security," Gen. Harrigian said, via an embassy press release.

Lt. Col. Ryan Stallworth, the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron Commander, added that: "Our robust military cooperation and enduring relationship with Estonia allows us to share readiness obligations so we can meet any global challenge."

Planes expected over Tallinn 3.25 p.m.

The mission is weather dependent; conditions in Estonia have been largely clear on Wednesday.

The flight is due to pass over Tallinn Airport at 3.25 p.m. Estonian time, and over Ämari Air Base, home of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission, about five minutes later, the U.S. embassy says.

The planes comprise U.S. B-1B Lancers of the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, joined by aircraft from a number of NATO allies, including fighter jets from the air forces of Germany and Italy, holding the NATO Baltic Air Policing role out of Ämari and Šiauliai, Lithuania, respectively.

The Bomber Task Force mission takes place in international airspace over both the North and Baltic Seas, and comes as part of a demonstration of U.S. commitment to the collective defense of the NATO alliance and of U.S. capability in extended deterrence.

Rockwell B1 one of three key strategic U.S. bombers

Coverage of the deployment will be available on the DVIDS hub, following the completion of the mission. 

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) also posted a clip of the B1-B in flight, accompanied by one of its Eurofighter Typhoons, below.

The highly-versatile B-1B Lancer is considered the backbone of the U.S' long-range bomber force, the embassy says, and is capable of rapidly delivering large quantities of precision and non-precision weapons.

The plane entered service in 1974 and is now one of three strategic bombers in the U.S. Air Force fleet, along with the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress. The latter have also recently made several overflights over Estonia, as have B-1Bs themselves.

The U.S. has invested over $200 million in joint defense cooperation in Estonia since 2015, the embassy says.

Both countries conduct multiple exercises and military-to-military engagements involving service members each year.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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