The planes are on their way from the US
Four of the US Air Force's biggest planes – the B52 bombers – are expected to fly in to RAF Fairford this morning.
Rumours that the planes were on their way surfaced on Tuesday this week when a plane arrived at the base on the Wiltshire-Gloucestershire border to prep the mothballed base.
And now this morning, plane-spotters in the US have tracked air force mid-air refuelling tankers that have taken off from bases in New England to meet the planes over the North Atlantic.
The US Air Force jets were stationed at Fairford, which operates jointly as one of the USAF's European air bases, earlier this year as part of the response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and for routine training with European air forces. Four of the iconic B-52 Stratofortress planes took up temporary residence in Gloucestershire.
The planes, along with a number of different RAF aircraft, were regularly spotted departing and returning to Fairford and Brize Norton just over the border in Oxfordshire amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They took part in NATO exercises over mainland Europe and training exercises with craft from other countries.
READ MORE: Inside a USAF B-52 bomber cockpit during a mission over Europe
It now appears as though the prized jets could be on their way back to RAF Fairford. A transport plane departed the Minot Air Base in North Dakota on Tuesday morning (August 16), with it being understood it is heading for Gloucestershire. Minot Air Base, in North Dakota, is where the 5th Bomb Wing operates 26 B-52s from.
The B-52s were not the only jets based in Gloucestershire this year, with brand new state of the art F35s and U2 spy planes also spotted arriving at the airfield earlier in the year. The latter can cruise at 70,000 feet and are used for intelligence gathering, the former are based over at Lakenhealth.
The rare sightings have also caused a stir with avid plane watchers too, with small crowds gathering at the end of the runway to witness the aircraft taking off and landing.
Scroll down for the latest on this story – we will bring you the latest updates as we get them.
RAF photographer Matty has shared the following pictures with us from today's arrivals.
And a look at the thriving spotter community capturing the mighty BUFFS of @TeamMinot
The Bloody Barons putting on a heck of a show as this one did a run and break before landing…
More to come pic.twitter.com/yXjQYr5WZk
The following planes have now landed at Fairford.
HYLA13 B-52 landed 15:20
HLYA14 B-52 landed 15:26
Two more B-52s are set to land at Fairford shortly. This will bring the total deployed today to four.
And just like that we have two on the ground!
The second B-52 landed at Fairford at 2.50pm.
First images are in from RAF photographer Matty, and he's shared them with us…
The B-52s are noisy, that's for sure.
Their approach over Oxfordshire and across Gloucestershire has been noticed, and some people aren't happy…
We have one on the ground!
The first B-52 from the US has landed at RAF Fairford – at 12.17pm
The radio comms between the pilots and air traffic control at RAF Brize Norton has been picked up and tweeted.
The planes are coming in to Fairford in the next few minutes.
B52H HYLA12 calling Brize inbound Fairford… pic.twitter.com/QbzJZxTNV8
There has been some chatter on social media about the possibility that two of the four B-52s heading to Europe from their base in North Dakota might peel off and head towards Poland, so we await to see how many arrive at Fairford in the next few minutes.
The refuelling craft from RAF Mildenhall are back now, job done, so the B52s won't be long in to Fairford now.
Returning back to Mildenhall after providing tanker support for B-52's deploying to RAF Fairford pic.twitter.com/OYJxOzWwTW
A U2 spyplane with the codename BLACK01 left Fairford at 9.09am
Heading north to meet the B-52s, apparently.
Plane spotters in the US have noticed these big refuelling jets are up in the sky overnight, heading out to meet the B-52s as they cross to Fairford
Tankers up (not all showing) to support 4x B-52s out of Minot on their way to RAF Fairford pic.twitter.com/85RpVGxGYJ