In May, US F-15 Eagle fighter jets will perform joint training with Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornets in the skies over Finland, the ministry of defense in Helsinki confirmed to Airheadsfly.com on Tuesday 10 February. It marks the first time the US and Finland work together in a large scale military exercise.
The F-15s likely are part of a Theater Security Package (TSP) such as the ones the US sent to Europe in 2015 also. Then, the fighter jets also took part in various military exercises, although they did not venture into Scandinavia.
The US pilots and ground crew will be based at Kuopio-Rissala airbase, home to Finnish Air Force F-18s. The exercise runs between 9 and 22 May and should largely play out in the skies over Lapland and eastern Finland, close to neighbouring Russia.
The Polish Airbase of Lask has been home to Polish F-16s for quite some time. This June F-16s from the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing join their Polish counterparts in bilateral training. The US F-16s deployed to Europe on 28 May as part of an ‘aviation detachment’, as the Air National Guard calls it.
The South Carolina F-16s are perhaps better known by their ‘Swamp Foxes’ nickname., and usually based at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, SC. The unit also brought aircraft in the relatively new ‘Have Glass’ colour scheme, recognizable by the darker grey colour.
Bilateral Polish-US air force training has taken place since 2012. US F-16s from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany and Aviano Air Base in Italy have previously deployed to Lask.
Every now and then a video pops up that is worth its own space at Airheadsfly.com. On Tuesday 2 June, the Dutch ministry of Defense published gear footage of a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-16 pilot sharing the sky with a US Air National Guard F-15 Eagle, but also exchanging some simulated hostilities during Dissimilar air combat training (DACT).
The video was made earlier this Spring, when twelve F-15 Eagles of the Florida Air National Guard’s 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed to Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. A story on that – also with video! – is here.
The Eagles later took part in exercise Frisian Flag (see here and here for more vids) and are currently deployed to Bulgaria.
Wether they involved noisy fighter jets or not, for years and years military exercises in European passed by largely unnoticed by the general public. The same can’t be said for exercises held over the last few months, which saw themselves at the focus of the new’s attention. Recent military exercises such Frisian Flag 2015 at Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands, are as much about training as about a show of force.
The US has been eager to show its airborne teeth in Europe, sending Theater Security Packages of A-10s and F-15s to Europe – packages that were previously reserved for ‘other’ hot spots around the globe and earlier this year caught many off guard in Europe.
The F-15s took part in Frisian Flag 2015, along with Dutch and Polish F-16s, Spanish and Finnish F-18s plus German Typhoons. A show of force as seen by many – and in these times, that’s one objective ticked off. Let’s rewind that in this quality film by professional filmer Vincent Kok of Imaging the Light.
The move to Bulgaria was announced earlier in April, as the F-15s were taking part in Dutch air power exercise Frisian Flag. The F-15s are part of a Theater Security Package (TSP) and will stay in Europe for five more months. Together, they form the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, made up of aircraft and personnel from Air National Guard units in Florida, California, Massachusetts and Oregon.
The F-15s already present in Bulgaria are part of the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing. They arrived here mid April, to take part in joint Bulgarian exercise Thracian Eagle.