ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — A Theater Security Package comprised of A-10C Thunderbolts and Airmen from the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., arrived at the Liberty Wing March 13 to train with NATO allies in new environments and cultures.
“Working with our NATO allies helps strengthen the bonds between us, and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Kerr, TSP maintenance superintendent.
The pilots and maintenance crews from the 355th FW took part in unique training opportunities, and shared their training and knowledge with Liberty Airmen during their five-day visit.
Maj. Ben Rudolphi, TSP detachment commander, explained that the pilots trained on several different missions, to include: low altitude tactical navigation, dissimilar air combat maneuvering, helicopter escort, basic surface attack and U.K. Joint Terminal Attack Controller coordination.
As Airmen stationed in Arizona, they noted the particular challenges of working with the English weather.
“We’ve gotten to see firsthand what conditions and limitations other maintainers work through on a daily basis, and that has given us the experience to be able to do likewise,” Kerr said.
“The 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilots have spent most of their lifetime in the Barry Goldwater Ranges, [Arizona], with good weather conditions,” Rudolphi said. “Coming to Europe has tested their close-air-support abilities while working in unfamiliar airspace with foreign controllers and less-than-ideal weather. Overall, they will be more confident and capable pilots.”
Before their visit to RAF Lakenheath the A-10s were training out of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, with both U.S. and German Air Forces. The Liberty Wing is just one stop of many. The 355th FW Airmen will continue to train with NATO allies across Europe, advancing their combat readiness while training in varying conditions and cultures.
“It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun,” Kerr said. “We have to integrate all of our allies’ rules and regulations into our daily routines, and make the mission happen. There have been lots of learning opportunities, and we look forward to even more challenges as we continue on with our mission.”