Personnel from the US Air Force 31st Fighter Wing and Royal Moroccan Air Force have taken part in F-16 aviation training during multilateral exercise African Lion 2019 at Ben Guerir Air Base in Morocco.
Sponsored by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, African Lion 2019 is US Africa Command-scheduled, US Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa-led joint and combined exercise.
The exercise is conducted in Morocco and Tunisia. Participants also include the armed forces of Canada, France, Senegal, Spain, and the UK.
Personnel have the opportunity to participate in a range of exercises, including a combined joint-task-force command-post exercise, aviation training exercise, field training exercise, maritime training exercise, and humanitarian civic assistance.
These exercises focus on transnational threats, regional cooperation and cybersecurity and defence.
555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander lieutenant colonel Beau Diers said: “We’re focused mostly on the aviation training exercise, which is a small portion of the overall exercise. Large force employment exercises (like this) are great for pilot development.
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“Participating in these types of exercises provides a training opportunity for our pilots to get them outside of their comfort zone. A new location, a new airspace and talking to new people on the radio are all just invaluable experiences.”
The annual exercise is aimed at improving interoperability and mutual understanding of participating nations’ tactics, techniques, procedures.
Diers added: “The airspace and range they have provided are for full-scale weapons deliveries, which provide us with an opportunity that we do not get to train on a regular basis, so we’re super happy with the support they’ve given us.”
F-16s conducted basic surface attacks and large-force employments during the exercise.
The aircraft used inert GBU-24 Paveway III and GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs for the first time in Morocco.
Last month, the US cleared a potential sale of 25 F-16 fighter aircraft to Morocco for a total consideration of $3.8bn.