Instead of a fighter jet flyover typically seen at the Super Bowl and other sporting events, a trifecta of Air Force bombers will take to the skies Sunday above the stadium in Tampa before the Buccaneers and Chiefs play in the NFL championship game.
The three bombers, a B-1, B-2 and B-52, part of the Global Strike Command, will take off from their home bases for the flyover above Raymond James Stadium at the conclusion of the National Anthem, WTSP reported.
“To be able to demonstrate what we’ve been doing around the clock overhead (for) Super Bowl LV, we hope it brings great strength to the American people,” MacDill Air Force Base Col. Ben Jonsson told WTSP.
The B-1B Lancer takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The B-2 Spirit is from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The B-52 Stratofortress is based out of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. All will be refueled mid-air by the KC-135 Stratotanker, which is based out of MacDill in Tampa.
“They don’t go long-range, they don’t go global without the KC-135 standing here behind me,” Jonsson said. “We are the ones that actually refuel them over the oceans around the world to make sure that we can touch an adversary any place in the world and they do that because of air refueling capability.”
The military has 62 B-1 bombers; 20 of the triangular B-2 “stealth” bombers; and 76 of the aged B-52 bomber, which has been in service since the 1960s with plans for their use through 2050, Popular Science reported.
“The most striking thing of seeing those three aircraft together, is that it represents three different generations of bombers, all at once—and it’s a dramatic difference in capabilities,” Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Popular Science.
Not without coincidence, numerically, the bombers 1, 2 and 52 add up to 55, for Super Bowl 55. The Air Force called it a “first-of-its-kind-trifecta,” WTVT reported.
“Supporting this event is a tremendous honor for our command and the U.S. Air Force,” Gen. Tim Ray, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, said in a statement. “We look forward to this opportunity to showcase the reliability, flexibility and precision of our bomber fleet to the nation during this exciting event.”
The Air Force conducts nearly 1,000 flyovers a year. The exercises serve as “time-over-target training” for the flight crew and do not come at a cost to tax payers, WTVT reported.