Defense

June 15, 2018
 

F-16s support BALTOPS and Saber Strike

Airman 1st Class Christopher Sparks
Poznan, Poland

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, takes off in support of BALTOPS and Saber Strike 18 at the 31st Tactical Air Base, Poznan-Krzesiny, Poland, June 8, 2018. BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise designed to improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. Operation Saber Strike 18 is an annual U.S. Army led land based combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

“We’re here to do suppression of enemy air defenses for both BALTOPS and Saber Strike, as well as defensive counter air,” said Lt. Col. Mike Richard, 480th Fighter Squadron commander 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB in Germany.

During BALTOPS and Saber Striker 18, the squadron will train with over 23 countries to exercise the full spectrum of military operations from integrating with maritime and land partners while maintaining air dominance.

“We get the value of training with the Polish Air Forces here,” Richard said. “We’re flying approximately 30 to 32 sorties a day, with half of those going to BALTOPS and Saber Strike, and roughly the other half integrating with the Polish Air Force. By integrating with [the Polish Air Force] we get to see NATO at the macro level and the micro level.”

BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise designed to improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, takes off in support of BALTOPS and Saber Strike 18 at the 31st Tactical Air Base, Poznan-Krzesiny, Poland, June 8, 2018. During BALTOPS and Saber Striker 18, the 480th Fighter Squadron, will train alongside over 22 countries to exercise the full spectrum of military operations from integrating with maritime and land partners while maintaining air dominance.

Saber Strike 18 is an annual U.S. Army led land based combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
“Every opportunity we get to demonstrate our joint interoperability with U.S. force and our NATO allies is really good,” Richard said. “We’re training with over 20 countries performing land movements, maritime movements, and air movements while protecting the forces across all of those spectrums.”

By continuing to strengthen deterrence and defense efforts and adapting through improving readiness and responsiveness, the U.S. Air Force, NATO allies and partners have the ability to stand together to ensure Europe is prosperous, free and at peace.

“Getting to see how it all comes together is the best training value” Richard said. “We very rarely get to train with the U.S. Navy as well as the U.S. Army at this scale. For us to get to see how [the U.S. Air Force] fits into that puzzle piece is a great opportunity.”
 

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, takes off in support of BALTOPS and Saber Strike 18 at the 31st Tactical Air Base, Poznan-Krzesiny, Poland, June 8, 2018. Eighteen F-16 Fighting Falcon and 300 personnel assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing were sent to Poland to support the exercises. There is simply no substitute for our interoperability among our units operating in Europe. It is the bedrock of our ability to assure our allies, respond to threats and ensure support to global operations.

 

A Norwegian Joint Terminal Attack Controller discusses operations with U.S. Forces during Saber Strike 18 in Adazi, Latvia, June 5, 2018. Nineteen nations attended and participated in the exercise to build on each nations capabilities and improve partnership capacity.

 

Italian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers watch an A-10 Thunderbolt II fly over Adazi, Latvia, June 7, 2018. Partner nations’ controllers worked with U.S. pilots to call in air support on mock targets during Saber Strike 18.




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