Profile #05 forms a brief summary 20th Expeditionary Bomb Sqn - CALCM SHOOTERS
of events at RAF Fairford between February and June 1999, where the 2nd Air Expeditionary Group was formed with aircraft from CONUS based 8th Air Force units to conduct strike missions as part of ‘Operation Noble Anvil’, the USAF part of ‘Operation Allied Force’.

B-52Hs were deployed from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, with B-1Bs from 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB,  South Dakota.

No attempt is made here to describe the overall Kosovo situation, this report merely covers the activities at the Gloucestershire ‘standby’ base, which was fully activated when the need arose to forward deploy USAF heavy bombers to Europe.

Following an uneventful deployment in October 1998, the first eight B-52Hs arrived at RAF Fairford over the weekend of 21st/22nd February 1999 as tensions in the Balkans rose again.

The first KC-135 of the 366th Wing at Mountain Home AFB arrived at Fairford on 31st March, with an eventual complement of five aircraft flying daily refuelling missions using ‘Riyal’ callsigns. Five 28th BW B-1Bs arrived as ‘Razor 11-15’ on 1st April, and were soon flying daily missions armed with Mk 82 bombs. Further B-1Bs were rotated through the base in the following weeks, although the complement never rose above six Lancers. 

As the air campaign intensified, the B-52 force switched to the conventional bombing role, with freefall weapons carried internally and on the wing pylons. Typical strike packages comprised two B-52Hs and two B-1Bs, with ‘Havoc’ and ‘Razor’ callsigns being used by both types. Further B-52Hs arrived from Barksdale and Minot on 1st May using ‘Tiger’ callsigns.

Two aircraft crossed the Atlantic with laser guided bombs on the wing pylons, and a further two arrived with AGM-142 ‘Have Nap’ TV guided missiles. One of the heaviest raids of the war was launched on the evening of 10th May, when a mixed package of B-52s and B-1Bs departed using callsigns ‘ Havoc 11-14’, ‘Razor 11-12’ and ‘Titus 41-42’.  

2nd Bombardment Wing Barksdale AFB, Louisiana   LA
Type Serial   Sqn Tail Mks Noseart Mission Mks
(date recorded)
Resident From/To
B-52H 60-0010 96 BS r   Instigator   21/2/99-30/3/99
B-52H 60-0011 11 BS g 11 BMS 11th Bomb Sqn 5 x CALCM
21xbombs (19/6)
B-52H 60-0014 N/m       27/3/99-29/3/99
B-52H 60-0016 N/m       22/2/99-26/3/99
B-52H 60-0020 20 BS b 20 BMS The Mad Bolshevik 10x CALCM
20 xbombs (19/6)
B-52H 60-0022 96 BS r       21/2/99-26/3/99
B-52H 60-0037 N/m   Wham Bam II 1 x bomb (19/6) 26/5/99-23/6/99
B-52H 60-0043 20 BS b     8 x bombs (19/6) 18/5/99-23/6/99
B-52H 60-0046 20 BS b     1 x bomb (19/6) 3/6/99-23/6/99
B-52H 60-0049 20 BS b     5xCALCM
2xbombs (14/5)
B-52H 60-0052 96 BS r     1 x CALCM 28/3/99-27/5/99
B-52H 60-0059 96 BS r 96 BMS 96 BS badge 6 x red CALCM (2/4) 21/2/99-17/4/99
B-52H 60-0062 20 BS b   Cajun Fear 1 x AGM-142
10 x bombs (19/6)
B-52H 61-0002 20 BS b 2nd OG Eagles Wrath III 11 x bombs (19/6) 1/5/99-23/6/99
B-52H 61-0011 11 BS g 11 BMS     1/5/99-9/5/99
B-52H 61-0016 11 BS g   Freebird MIA/POW Remembered 15 x CALCM (14/5) 21/2/99-18/5/99
B-52H 61-0020 96 BS r     2 x CALCM
5 x bombs (14/5)
B-52H 61-0023 20 BS b     11 x CALCM
5 x bombs (3/6)
B-52H 61-0031 11 BS g   Ol' Smokey   21/2/99-26/3/99
B-52H 61-0039 11 BS g     13 x bombs (19/6) 8/5/99-23/6/99
5th Bombardment Wing Minot AFB, North Dakota   MT
Type Serial   Sqn Tail Mks Noseart Mission Mks
(date recorded)
Resident From/To
B-52H 60-0009 23 BS r   Rolling Thunder II 7x CALCM (14/5) 29/3/99-30/3/99
B-52H 60-0018 N/m     14xbombs (19/6) 1/5/99-23/6/99
B-52H 60-0033 23 BS r   Instrument of Destruction 17 x bombs 27/3/99-29/3/99
B-52H 60-0044 23 BS r       29/3/99-17/4/99
B-52H 60-0051 23 BS r   Appetite for Destruction 2 x bombs (19/6) 29/3/99-1/4/99
28th Bombardment Wing Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota EL
Type Serial   Sqn Tail Mks Noseart Mission Mks
(date recorded)
Resident From/To
B-1B 85-0073 77 BS y       1/4/99-26/4/99
B-1B 85-0074 77 BS y     7 x bombs (5/6) 8/4/99-6/6/99
B-1B 85-0075 77 BS y     8 x bombs (17/6) 1/4/99-11/4/99
B-1B 85-0083 77 BS y       1/4/99-29/5/99
B-1B 85-0091 77 BS y     24 x bombs (17/6) 1/4/99-24/6/99
B-1B 86-0097 77 BS y     8 x bombs (17/6) 24/4/99-24/6/99
B-1B 86-0102 37 BS b       1/4/99-18/5/99
B-1B 86-0104 77 BS y       3/6/99-24/6/99
B-1B 86-0129 37 BS b       15/5/99-25/6/99
366th Wing Mountain Home AFB, Idaho MO
Type Serial   Sqn Tail Mks Noseart Mission Mks
(date recorded)
Resident From/To
KC-135R 59-1498 22 ARS   Spud Nick   16/4/99-25/6/99
KC-135R 61-0277 22 ARS   Wild Wild West   31/3/99-1/4/99
KC-135R 62-3513 22 ARS   Heavy Metal   16/4/99-25/6/99
KC-135R 62-3572 22 ARS   Luck of the draw   15/4/99-25/6/99
KC-135R 63-8004 22 ARS   Gunfighter Express   16/4/99-6/6/99
KC-135R 63-8875 22 ARS 22 ARS     3/6/99-25/6/99

B-52H 60-0062/LA "CAJUN FEAR" armed with AGM-142s shortly after engine shutdown following arrival at Fairford on 3rd May 1999 as Tiger 01.

© Tim Hunter
EOS-5 75-300mm K64 350/f5.6
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With the failure of diplomacy to resolve the Kosovo situation, the morning of 24th March saw the start of the bombing campaign, when eight ‘buffs’ launched as ‘Havoc 11-18’. Two aircraft returned as spares and six continued on the mission armed with Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles (CALCMs).

Callsigns used during the evening recovery were ‘Reset 11-16’. Over the following days, two- and three-ship missions were launched, whilst a number of aircraft returned to Barksdale, with replacements arriving at Fairford with CALCMs carried internally. Mission launches throughout the first week at Fairford were covered by multiple TV crews, and were no doubt broadcast around the world. 

There was no flying until 9th March when a full scale training mission was launched with seven aircraft and refuelling support from three KC-135s from RAF Mildenhall. The following morning saw a rare visitor to the UK when B-2A  82-1067/WM ‘Czar 12’ arrived at Fairford for a fuel stop and crew change during an ‘Global Power’ training mission, taking advantage of the active status of the base.

A peace agreement between NATO and Serbia was signed on 9th June, following heavy B-52 raids on Yugoslav army units in Kosovo, widely reported by the media. By 20th June, eleven B-52Hs, five B-1Bs, and five KC-135Rs were still present, at which time bombs had been removed from wing pylons.  

Once it became clear that the Serbs had complied with the terms of the settlement, and had withdrawn from Kosovo, the massed air armada in Europe began a quick process of redeployment. The B-52H force left Fairford en-masse on 23rd June, when 8 aircraft returned to Barksdale as Brock 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21, whilst the 3 Minot machines returned home as Hazan 12, 14 and 16. The B-1Bs departed for Ellsworth on the following day using the familiar Razor callsigns, and the KC-135s departed on 25th. With the withdrawal completed the only aircraft movements were AMC transports collecting ground equipment and personnel. Only one month later, however, RAF Fairford was temporary home to 483 aircraft from 45 air arms - but that’s another story! 

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The aircraft listed in the following table have been deployed to RAF Fairford in the period February - June 1999.

There was a high change over rate of B-52Hs, with some aircraft returning stateside then being redeployed. The maximum number of B-52Hs present at any one time was fourteen in early May. B-1B force remained fairly static, with few changes. It is understood that those Lancers present were the most capable machines in the inventory, having undergone a series of recent modifications and upgrades. 

All current USAF heavy transport types were represented, with C-5s, C-17s, C-130s and C-141s visiting during the build up periods with equipment, personnel and ordnance loads. Those types are not listed here.

Mission mark being applied to B-52H 60-0010. Air Force slang for marking up the aircraft is 'frocking'. In this case the 'frocker' is the commander of the 96th Bomb Squadron.
© Photo via 96BS
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B-52H 60-0037, no squadron markings, at dispersal on 6th June 1999. This aircraft was a late arrival and flew a single mission. 
EOS-5 75-300 K64 180/f8
KC-135R 62-3572/MO returning after a mission. 6 KC-135's were deployed from Mountain Home in support of 'Noble Anvil' missions.
© Duncan Adams
B-52H 60-0016 wearing no squadron markings, seen on the morning of 27th February 1999, one week after arriving at Fairford. 
EOS-5 75-300 K64, 180/f8  
B-52H 60-0011/LA 11th BS/2ND BW on 3rd May 1999
EOS-5 75-300 K64 180/f8
B-52H 60-0062 ‘Tiger 01’, chute in trail, taxies off runway 27 after arrival on 1st May 1999.
EOS-5 75-300 K64 350/f5.6  
B-52H 61-0002/LA 20th BS/2nd BW armed with LGBs on 3rd May 1999  
EOS-5 75-300 K64 180/f8  
B-52H 60-0051 photographed on 6th June 1999, prior to one of the final missions of the campaign. 
EOS-5 28-105 K64 180/f8  
B-52H 60-0049 photographed on 9th may, with an AGM-142 TV guided missile visible on the port wing pylon. The mission marks indicate 5 launches of CALCMs on previous missions.
EOS-5 28-105 K64 125/f8
B-52H 60-0020 of the 20th Bomb Squadron, photographed on 3rd May 1999 with a full pylon fit of Laser guided bombs.
EOS-5 75-300 K64 350/f5.6
 B-1B 85-0083 taxies towards the runway 09 threshold on the evening of 3rd May 1999, at the start of a five hour two-ship combat mission. Two B-52Hs launched at the same time.
EOS-5 75-300mm K64 180/f8
B-1B 86-0073 parked at the Fairford eastern dispersals on 2nd April 1999. The aircraft arrived in England on the previous day, and was being 'bombed up' for its first mission that evening when this photograph was taken.
EOS-5 75-300 K64 350/f5.6
Buffs at rest. B-52Hs 60-0020 and 60-0062 at dispersal on 19th June 1999. By this time the final mission had been flown, but the aircraft were still on standby for further operations.
EOS-5 75-300 K64 350/f5.6
B-52H 61-0016 on the evening of 2nd April 1999, after a week of raids during which twelve cruise missile marks had been applied.
EOS-5 28-105 K64 125/f8.
B-52H 61-0023/LA 20th BS/2nd BW parked towards the Center of the field on 3rd May 1999, when 14 ‘buffs’ were present and ramp space on the western dispersal's was in short supply! 
EOS-5 75-300 K64 180/f8  

Please contact us with any corrections, additions or comments regarding any of the information on this page.  

Original Kodachrome 64 slides of B-52s are available for sale or trade. Please e-mail for further details. We are currently missing slides of  61-0011, 61-0031 and  61-0039 taken at Fairford. Please contact us if you can help us complete this historical photographic record.

AirForces Monthly Military Aviation Review Mil-Scan - The European Military Communications Monitoring Group
Aircraft Illustrated Mil-Spotters-Forum B-52 / USAF Patch Collector's Web page
Campaign Callsigns Aircraft Log Photofiles

Fairford Command Post
Foxtrot Control, Havoc, Hedgehog, Razor, Bladerunner

Mildenhall ACC Command Post
Banter Control

B-52H Callsigns - 2nd BW/5th BW
Amuse, Area, Artic, Binge, Borg, Brock, Edwin, Gamut, Havoc, Hoyle, Jambo, Laser, Lundy, Nappy, Meyer, Oscar, Tiger

Operational Mission (including Rolling Changeovers)
Agnew, Amuse, Artic, Balot, Binge, Blow, Blur, Crude, Dallas, Doom, Faker, Girth, Griff, Havoc, Hazan, Litch, Mity, Prude, Quid, Reset, Titus, Upset, Valid

B-1B Callsigns - 28th BW
Bone, Foil, Havoc, Razor, Titus, Yard

KC-135R callsigns - 366th WG

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Bombing Campaign
Aircraft Log
As is inevitable given the high rate of operations, a number of emergencies occurred. On returning to UK airspace, B-52Hs with hung ordnance were directed to low level over the Bristol Channel, to danger area D112N off Lundy Island, where ordnance jettisons were attempted, in most cases unsuccessfully. On 8th May a B-52 with hung ordnance made a safe landing at Fairford but was evacuated immediately and the runway closed for some time whilst the weapons were disarmed by emergency crews. 
All photos (unless noted) ©Tim Hunter
Report:Tim Hunter
Photos:Tim Hunter