By Staff Sgt. Preston Cherry, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 08, 2020
First Lt. Russel Blair, 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, flies alongside the port wing of Capt. Dominic Collins, 480th FS pilot, above Germany, July 1, 2020. The F-16 was participating in a U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa large force exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle Cope)
Staff Sgt. Brian Clark, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, performs a flight safety check before takeoff at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 1, 2020. Bases across Europe participated in a large force exercise to enhance combat readiness and increase tactical proficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor Slater)
An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron takes off from RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, in support of a large force exercise, July 1, 2020. Large force exercises sharpen combat readiness, increase tactical proficiency and maintain a ready force capable of ensuring the collective defense of the NATO alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher S. Sparks)
Three U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, fly alongside and behind a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, during a Large Force Exercise over Germany, July 1, 2020. During the LFE, aircrew trained in a centralized location allowing the pairing of multiple fourth generation platforms together to increase interoperability and maximize capabilities of participating aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)
Multiple wings from across U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa participated in a large force exercise hosted by Spangdahlem Air Base over Germany, July 1.
The exercise focused on aircrew integration of multiple platforms to enhance readiness and increase proficiency needed to maintain a ready force to ensure the collective defense of the NATO alliance.
Participating aircraft and units included F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, F-16s assigned to the 510th FS at Aviano AB, Italy, F-15 Eagles assigned to the 494th FS at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, C-130 Hercules assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, and KC-135 Stratotankers assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, U.K.
“Airpower employment doesn’t happen by mistake; it takes a team of trained individuals working together,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Kennedy, 480th FS commander. “These exercises help build the next generation of air-minded warriors. The goal is to provide realistic combat training that can face advanced adversary forces. Exercises provide operationally realistic and highly dynamic scenarios.”
LFEs are regularly conducted in different airspaces to ensure aircrew have the mentality necessary to engage in flexible execution of air power. The 52nd Fighter Wing provided the logistics of this LFE.
“Planning, coordination, and execution of large amounts of aircraft is challenging,” Kennedy said. “However, we have years of experience in the operations, maintenance, and mission-support group that allow these types of exercises to happen. The best way to get good at employing airpower is to employ airpower. This is why USAFE and NATO participate in exercises regularly together and can go well beyond the basics to tackle difficult problem sets.”
The operation allows for the pairing of multiple fourth-generation platforms together to increase interoperability and maximize capabilities of participating aircraft.
“As a pilot in USAFE’s sole suppression of enemy air defenses squadron, I particularly value the unique capabilities and advantages each aircraft brings to the fight,” said Capt. Christian Pisanelli, 480th FS pilot. “Developing a game plan to synergize those capabilities and executing a game plan together is always a remarkable experience.”
In addition to pilots, the exercise helps those on the ground receive training and experience.
“Across the major command, our maintenance squadrons spend countless hours making sure our aircraft are ready to perform the mission,” Kennedy said. “Also, our mission support agencies make sure the airfield is ready for use, the jets are fueled, and our emergency responders are prepared for any contingency.”
The LFE ensures Airmen sharpen their combat readiness and increase tactical proficiency.
“I simply hope to take advantage of the quality tactical training this LFE provides,” Pisanelli said. “It will be a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and be placed into a complicated scenario where my skills will be tested.”