Spangdahlem ‘Viper’ pilots demo ACE skills

Airmen and F-16CM/DM Fighting Falcons assigned to the USAF’s 480th Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Warhawks’ – a part of the 52nd Fighter Wing (FW) at Spangdahlem Air Base (AB) in Germany – demonstrated its Agile Combat Employment (ACE) capabilities at Ämari AB, Estonia, and Łask AB, Poland recently.

The aim of this mission was to demonstrate the 480th’s ability to quickly generate and deploy airpower from smaller or dislocated airfields across Europe. During the mission, the ‘Warhawks’ worked closely with NATO partners, leveraging multilateral partnerships and strategic relationships to further strengthen domain awareness, interoperability and key alliances.

Capt Bryan Meek, an F-16CM/DM pilot with the ‘Warhawks’, said of the mission which took place on February 29: “Not only were we able to practice and demonstrate the generation of airpower from a dispersed location, but we were also able to strengthen the bond with our Estonian allies in the process. By continuing to foster these strong and strategic relationships within NATO, we are sharpening our competitive edge whilst preparing to win in a dynamic global environment.”

USAF/Airman 1st Class Albert Morel

After departing Spangdahlem (pictured), the 480th FS F-16CM/DM pilots practiced basic fighter maneuvers before landing at Ämari. After arriving in Estonia, the 480th FS crews interacted with the Estonian Defense Forces, who guided the F-16CM/DMs into their parking positions and worked with USAF pilots on their shutdown procedures.

The fighters were subsequently refueled on the ground by Estonian personnel before departing Ämari for Poland, where they completed their mission by landing at Łask AB. The mission was also supported by a USAF KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing’s (ARW’s) 351st Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, UK, which provided tanker support over Germany, Poland and Estonia.