The Barents Observer and the U.S. armed forces publication Stars and Stripes report that U. S. Air Force officials have confirmed a American B-1 Lancer supersonic strategic bomber, one of four recently deployed to the Orland Air Base in Norway – permanently or for the indefinite future – landed for the first time ever inside the Arctic Circle, at the Bodø Air Station in Norway.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa confirmed that the B-1 was escorted by four Swedish JAS-39 Gripen multirole fighter aircraft, providing further evidence that Sweden, like its neighbor Finland, is a NATO member in all but name.

The B-1 is one of three major U.S. long-range strategic bombers, and the one equipped to carry the largest payload of any American bomber.

It’s capable of carrying 24 nuclear bombs or 84 conventional ones, and overall can be equipped with the biggest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force arsenal. It has a speed of up to Mach 2.2 and can fly almost 5,000 miles without refueling.

As part of New START provisions it was formally converted from a nuclear to a conventional capacity in 2011. Russia is allowed to inspect the planes at their American bases. I haven’t seen any evidence, though, that Russia is allowed to inspect the four B-1s now stationed in Norway.

According to Stars and Stripes: “Bodø is [also] home to Norway’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, which are NATO’s northernmost aircraft. The airmen there are trained to scramble their jets to meet Russian military planes flying from the Kola Peninsula, the Barents Observer reported.”