July 8 (UPI) -- Air wings of U.S. Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa met at Spangdahlen Air Base, Germany, for a Large Force Exercise, the Air Force said on Wednesday.
The gathering on July 1 brought aircraft stationed across Europe together for an exercise "focused on aircrew integration of multiple platforms to enhance readiness and increase proficiency needed to maintain a ready force to ensure the collective defense of the NATO alliance," the Air Force said in a statement.
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron and F-16s assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, participated.
The exercise also included F-15 Eagles assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, Britain, C-130 Hercules of the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and KC-135 Stratotankers assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, Britain.
LFEs are conducted regularly, but the exercise at Spangdahlen Air Base was only the second in the COVID-19 era. RAF Lakenheath hosted a similar event in June.
"These exercises help build the next generation of air-minded warriors. The goal is to provide realistic combat training that can face advanced adversary forces," said Lt. Col. Patrick Kennedy, 480th Fighter Squadron commander. "Exercises provide operationally realistic and highly dynamic scenarios."
"Planning, coordination, and execution of large amounts of aircraft is challenging," Kennedy added.
"However, we have years of experience in the operations, maintenance, and mission-support group that allow these types of exercises to happen. The best way to get good at employing air power is to employ air power," Kennedy added. "This is why USAFE and NATO participate in exercises regularly together and can go well beyond the basics to tackle difficult problem sets."