Tag Archives: Atlantic Resolve

Press Play: Riding the clouds, fighting the Eagle

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.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image & video footage: Sharing the sky. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

US Air National Guard F-15s into Eastern Europe

The US moved one of its top air-to-air assets far into Eastern Europe this week, by sending Louisiana Air National Guard F-15s to Graf Ignatievo airbase in Bulgaria. They will participate in exercise Thracian Eagle 2015, together with the Bulgarian Air Forces’ MiG-29s and Su-25s. The US F-15s currently at Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands are also expected to re-deploy to Bulgaria.

The Eagles currently already in Bulgaria are part of the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing, based at Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base New Orleans. The F-15s first arrived in Europe earlier in April, flying into Lakenheath airbase in the UK. The aircraft along with with 150 personnel, have now moved on to Bulgaria.

The deployment is part of US Operation Atlantic Resolve, which earlier saw A-10 tank killers and UH-60 Black Gawk helicopters being moved to Germany, plus F-15s sent to Leeuwarden. The latters belong to the Florida and Oregon Air National Guard and have now finished their participation in exercise Frisian Flag.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum joins these two Louisiana Air National Guard F-15s. (Image © US Air National Guard / Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie)

The flightline at Graf Ignatievo in Bulgaria. (Image © US Air National Guard / Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie)
The flightline at Graf Ignatievo in Bulgaria. (Image © US Air National Guard / Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie)

 

 

Eagles soar over Leeuwarden

Fighting Falcons are a familiar sight in the skies over the Dutch airbase of Leeuwarden. But these days Eagles join them. They are US Air National Guard F-15 Eagle air superiority aircraft and they deployed from the US to Leeuwarden last week as part of US operation Atlantic Resolve. Soon, they’ll soar over more of Europe. Good news for Eagle fans. Lt. Col. Paul Reedy, commander of the Florida Air National Guard’s 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, is one of them.

“Undefeated in aerial combat.” That about sums up the F-15 Eagle in the eyes of Reedy, who commands the twelve aircraft that flew to Leeuwarden last week along with personnel from the Florida Air National Guard. The deployment also involves staff from Air National Guard units in California, Massachusetts and Oregon, with the latter also providing six aircraft.

The ferry flight from Jacksonville, Florida, was quite eventful, says Reedy. “We postponed our arrival by one day due to turbulence of the Atlantic. We would have had a nice tail wind on the way over here, but that same tail wind would have made for turbulence and quite an uncomfortable ride. When we finally arrived the winds at Leeuwarden were up to 50 knots. In Florida we are used to thunderstorms but not winds that strong. However, there was a window in the weather that allowed us to land here.”

Leeuwarden has become an Eagle's nest. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Leeuwarden has become an Eagle’s nest. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
20150408_EHLW_F15C_860162_PLATFORM
Inspection time! (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Frisian Flag
Today, on 8 April, the pilots are  flying joint tactical missions with Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-16s, in preparation for large scale military exercise Frisian Flag, kicking of on 13 April at Leeuwarden. Also joining the exercise are Eurofighter Typhoons from Germany, F-18 Hornets from Finland and Spain, plus Polish F-16s. Reedy: “Our goals are to work on our interoperability with different NATO partners and we’ll be working on our offensive and defensive air-to-air techniques. I myself look forward to meeting Eurofighter Typhoon in the air, as I personally haven’t done that yet. It’s a great learning opportunity.”

Upgrades
About half of the Eagles deployed to Leeuwarden are equipped with the very latest APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. “The F-15 was a great air-to-air platform when it was originally built in the seventies and it still is today. Between then and now we’ve undergone many upgrades of our avionics plus offensive and defense systems. They continue to give us a lethal platform today and into the future”, says Reedy. His tactical nickname is ‘Stoner’ and as a seven year old he dreamed of flying the Eagle. Reedy now has 1,600 hours on type.

Positive rate of climb... (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Positive rate of climb, gear up! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Positive noise also! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Positive noise also! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Let's not forget that Dutch F-16s have been calling Leeuwarden home for well over 30 years. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Let’s not forget that Dutch F-16s have been calling Leeuwarden home for well over 30 years. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

TSP
That lethality is exactly the US wants to show Russia. The F-15s at Leeuwarden are in fact a Theater Security Package (TSP) the US has sent as a show of force to Europe’s Eastern neighbour, the second since US Air Force A-10C “Warthogs” arrived in Germany last February. Those A-10s have been across Europe as well. Just like the Warthogs the Eagles at Leeuwarden will stay on the continent for six months, with personnel rotating. “After taking part in Frisian Flag, we are heading to Graf Ignatievo Airbase in Bulgaria. There we will also train with NATO allies,” says Reedy.

First, on this murky Wednesday in April, there’s training to be done with Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s. Four Fighting Falcons and four Eagles loudly take off for an air-to-air combat mission. In April the F-15 Eagle will be a familiar sight in the skies over the Netherlands. In fact, it will be a familiar sight in the skies all over Europe for months to come. Surely the predator will be noticed.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Take-off for a F-15 Eagle (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Click to enlarge! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Click to enlarge! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
About to settle down onto Leeuwarden's runway 23. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
About to settle down onto Leeuwarden’s runway 23. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
There's room for two in the F-15D. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
There’s room for two in the F-15D. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After inspection... (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After inspection… (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready for the next flight. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
… it’s time for the next flight. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Landing time again. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Landing time again. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
An F-15 Eagle fan: Lt. Col. Paul 'Stoner' Reedy. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
An F-15 Eagle fan: Lt. Col. Paul ‘Stoner’ Reedy. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Official: US F-15 Eagles head for Europe

The news was ‘unofficial’ for a long time, but now the US Air National Guard has confirmed 12 Boeing F-15C Eagles are heading for Europe for various exercises and as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Eagles from the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, form the second Theater Security Package (TSP) after the A-10’s that were sent to Spangdahlem, Germany, in February.

UPDATE 3 April | The Eagles arrived in the Netherlands on 31 March and 1 April. Several belong to the Oregon Air National Guard rather than the Florida Air National Guard. The US pilots started flying missions with Dutch F16s on 3 April.

The F-15Cs are first heading for Leeuwarden airbase, the Netherlands, for taking part in multinational flying exercise Frisian Flag.  They are expected to arrive early next week, with the first US Air Force transport C-17 Globemaster III already seen at the Dutch airbase. Afterwards, they will also show themselves at Graf Ignatievo airbase in Bulgaria. The planes will train with NATO allies during the deployment.

The 125th Fighter Wing is normally based at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida. Each US state has its own Air National Guard, and along with the US Air Force, these units form an integral part of US air power.

Operation Atlantic Resolve is the name the US gave to its increased military effort in Europe, following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea over a year ago, plus the more recent fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

The US Army Black Hawks that arrived in Germany earlier in March, are also part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Florida Air National Guard F-15 Eagle joins the tanker. (Image © US Air Force)

More details on European USAF operations

The US Air Force has released more details on coming deployment of military aircraft to Europe. The deployments come on top of the current deployment of A-10 tank killers to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. Air National Guard (ANG) F-15s and F-16s will also head to Europe, along with U.S. Air Force Reserve Command A-10s.

The arrival of F-15s was announced earlier, but details now also reveal what these Eagles are up to while in Europe. The F-15s participate in exercise Thracian Eagle this spring at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria, plus Exercise Saber Strike and Baltic operations this summer in the Baltic States and Poland. Rumours about ANG F-15s taking part in Dutch exercise Frisian Flag 2015 at Leeuwarden airbase, are – for now – just that; rumours.

This spring, F-16s will fly to Ämari Air Base in Estonia and Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania. Reserve A-10s are expected to go to Bulgaria. Furthermore, detachments of C-130s and F-16s will keep rotating through Powidz Air Base in Poland.

The movements are part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The US also says it takes part in exercise Eager Lion in Morocco this spring,  Anatolian Eagle in Turkey in June, plus Arctic Challenge in Norway.

In a move related to the increased USAF presence in Europe, the US Army has said it will station two dozen more UH-60 Black Hawk helos in Germany.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A US Air Force F-15 refuels from a tanker. (Image © Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler / USAF)

That big gun in the front is what the A-10 is all about. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
One of the A-10s currently deployed in Germany. (Image © Dennis Spronk)