Twelve F-15C jets will operate in the Netherlands before moving to Bulgaria.
It looks like the military build-up in eastern Europe continues.
The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15C belonging to the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, Jacksonville, Fla., to Europe.
The Eagles, part of the first ANG TSP (Theater Security Package) will first operate from Leeuwarden airbase, in the Netherlands, where they will take part in the Frisian Flag mutinational exercise, then, they are expected to move east and be temporarily based at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria.
The Air National Guard F-15s are the second TSP to deploy to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the mission aimed at showing Washington’s commitment to peace and stability in the region and reassure local allies amid growing tensions with Russia following the annexation of Crimea last year.
Air drop of leaflets in support of Information Operations have been conducted by the U.S. Army above Helmand province, Afghanistan, using U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to deliver information to areas of Helmand province unreachable by conventional communication.
Leaflets have been also air dropped by Syrian Arab Air Force Mil Mi-8 helicopters over Aleppo in August 2012 to urge rebels to surrender to the Syrian Army.
Indeed the Viper can maneuver against any opponent, proving to be the ideal adversary (or “aggressor” in the Air Force jargon) aircraft for both U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy training programs. Arguably the best version of the Fighting Falcon having played the bandit role has been the F-16N.
Born in response to the need of the Navy to replace its aging fleets of A-4 Skyhawks and F-5 Tigers adversary fighters, the F-16N was a basic F-16C Block 30 with the General Electric F110-GE-100 engine.
The F-16N was typically equipped with the Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pod on the starboard wingtip and to completely simulate adversaries, the ALR-69 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and the ALE-40 chaff/flare were also incorporated.
To save weight the internal cannon was removed and the aircraft could not carry air-to-air missiles, even though it retained the APG-66 radar from the F-16A/B models.
According to Rick Llinares & Chuck Lloyd book Adversary America’s Aggressor Fighter Squadrons, since the U.S. Navy didn’t own any Fulcrum or Flanker, the F-16N was the best fighter to replicate the then new fourth generation Russian fighters and finally F-14 and F/A-18 crews could fight against a real different aircraft. In particular, against the Tomcat, the nimble F-16N was a very challenging adversary, as by the video below.
Unfortunately the F-16N began to experience the wear and tear due to the excessive g’s sustained during many aerial engagements and in 1994 the Navy decided to retire the type since the costly repair to keep the Viper flying can’t be afforded. But even if as bandit the F-16N was replaced by the F-5 which was the fighter the Viper intended to replace, the F-16N still remains the best adversary fighter ever flown by the U.S. Navy.
The purpose of the visit is yet unknown. Most probably the Thunderbolts will be involved in the exercises related to Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a NATO programme aimed at providing reassurance for the Mid-Eastern European countries (against the Russian threat).
The arrival of the attack aircraft was preceded by arrival of two USAF C-130 Hercules transports, one from the 86th Airlift Wing stationed at Ramstein AB and another one from the 302nd Airlift Wing from Colorado Springs, both part of the rotational USAF Aviation Detachment.
We do not have any information related to length or plan of the unexpected visit. Notably, one of the Warthogs was piloted by a female pilot.
Image Credit: 3rd Transport Aviation Wing, cpt. Włodzimierz Baran, Polish Air Force. More photos here.
31st Fighter Wing F-16s have deployed to Estonia, to participate in bilateral training with the Estonian air force.
On Mar. 20, 14 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, with the 510th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wing, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, have deployed to Ämari Air Base, in Estonia, to take part in bilateral training with the local Air Force and perform simultaneous, unrelated training with the Finnish and Swedish air forces in their airspace.