The U.S. Air Force’s iconic B-52 Stratofortresses have become a regular sightat war games across Europe. But as terrorist groups wreak havoc across North Africa, the lumbering bombers are headed farther south.

On June 2, three of the massive, eight-engine planes touched down at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom. From there, the aircraft will fly practice missions during three different exercises, including one off the coast of North Africa.

“Our bombers have not recently conducted training flights” near the African continent, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, the U.S. Strategic Command chief of public affairs for current operations, told War Is Boring by email. “The B-52 will remain over international waters and will not cross into national airspace.”

Since the top Pentagon headquarters for Africa lacks experience in commanding the big planes, the B-52s — or any of the Air Force’s other heavy bombers — do not make regular appearances in the region. However, that could all change very soon.

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Image courtesy of War is Boring