USAFE-AFAFRICA has conducted the first large force exercise (LFE) to enhance combat readiness and increase tactical proficiency amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The large force exercise, which was conducted within the North Sea airspace on 27 May, had seen the participation of the USAF F-15 Strike Eagles attached to the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath; F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy; F-16s assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany; KC-135 Stratotankers attached to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall; and NATO E-3 Sentry, or AWACS, from Geilenkirchen AB, Germany.

During the exercise, a Dissimilar Air Combat Training was conducted, which will help in maintaining a capable and ready force that can ensure the collective defence of the Nato alliance to counter threats in the area of responsibility.

USAF a 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot and 48th FW chief of weapons Captain Nathan Hartoin said: “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 US.

“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.

“The aerial refuelling provided by the 100th ARW was vital in showing the capability to execute long-range defensive counter-air. With this in mind, the tanker plan was the primary detail that was constantly adapted all the way through execution.”

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By GlobalData

Last month, the USAFE provided a C-130J Super Hercules from Ramstein Air Force Base (AFB), Germany, for the transportation of medical and other relief supplies between supply hubs in Milan and Rome in Italy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Italian Government was supported by the USAF 86th Airlift Wing for the mission, which was the first in a planned series of USAFE mobility support operations to Italy.