Air Force Performs Key Exercise in North Sea Air Space
The Air Force recently hosted a large exercise in the United Kingdom’s North Sea airspace, the Defense Department reported on June 5. The service’s 48th Fighter Wing held the exercise to continue the advanced training of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa and NATO partners given the persistent and growing near-peer threats in the region.
The event involved: U.S. Air Force F-15s assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; F-16s assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy; F-16s assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; KC-135s assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England; and NATO Airborne Warning And Control System aircraft from Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany, according to a report from Master Sgt. Eric Burks, USAF, from the 48th Fighter Wing.
The large exercise was held despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, during which most other major military exercises have been cancelled. “Exercises of this nature are not new for the units assigned to U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, but with the COVID-19 crisis, participating units have identified a way to integrate multiple assets and ensure combat readiness for the collective defense of the NATO alliance,” Sgt. Burks indicated.
The exercise tested the airmen’s ability to conduct dissimilar air combat training and their tactical proficiency.
“Large force exercises allow us to validate and enforce important tactics that are tested at many of the major exercises that occur around Europe and the United States," said Capt. Nathan Hartoin, USAF, pilot, 493rd Fighter Squadron and chief of weapons, 48th Fighter Wing. “The North Sea airspace allows fourth-to-fourth-generation fighter integration on a large scale and is one of the best around for simulated air-to-air engagements.”
In addition, the 100th Air Refueling Wing provided key tanker support so that the airmen could demonstrate long-range defensive counter air capabilities, according to the report.