Home Air US B-1B bomber makes Poland debut for first hot-pit refuel in Europe

US B-1B bomber makes Poland debut for first hot-pit refuel in Europe

B-1B in the Arctic
A B-1 refuels at Bodø Air Force Station, Norway, March 8, 2021. This marked first time a B-1 has landed within the Arctic Circle. Photo: US Air Force

A US Air Force B-1B Lancer achieved a double first on March 12 by becoming the first B-1B to ever land in Poland and the first to complete a hot-pit refuel in Europe.

The bomber from the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, achieved the firsts during a Bomber Task Force mission to Powidz, Poland. The mission is part of a larger, unprecedent, deployment of US bombers to Norway.

“Hot pitting,” or refueling the aircraft while the engines are on and the crew remains in the cockpit, drastically reduces refueling times so that bombers can more rapidly return to the skies.

In addition to this historic first, the B-1 integrated with Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters, Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons and Danish F-16s. The B-1 also conducted aerial refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom.

Hot-pit refueling is a pillar of agile combat employment, which enhances bombers’ ability to rapidly deploy and operate from remote locations with varying levels of capacity and support. ACE increases lethality, strengthens interoperability and advances efficiency in accomplishing the mission.

“Proving the rapid refueling concept today in Poland alongside some of our closest allies speaks for itself,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “Our bombers can get after the mission anytime, anywhere.”

Three Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, arrived in Norway on February 22, for a long planned training mission that will see the aircraft conduct theater and flight training across Europe.

This is the first time US bombers are operating out of Norway and have already set a number of “first time” milestones, from attending anti-submarine warfare drills in the Barents Sea to landing in the Arctic Circle.