Liberty Wing hosts air combat training at RAF Lakenheath

The Liberty Wing completed a series of large-force exercises with fifth generation aircraft and joint service partners at Royal Air Force Lakenheath.

F-22 Raptors assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing and F/A-18 Super Hornets deployed from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman participated in this air combat training.

The exercises bring different types of fighter aircraft from various units together for air combat training in the same air space. It was conducted to enhance the professional relationships and improve overall coordination with allies and partner militaries, and demonstrates the US commitment to providing fifth-generation fighter presence in Europe.

“In the near future we will see a steady increase in fifth generation aircraft across Europe,” said Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Operations Group commander. “Whether it’s rotational aircraft stopping by for a few weeks like the F-22 Raptors, or permanently assigned F-35 Lightnings at RAF Marham and other future operating locations across Europe, to include here at Lakenheath. It is absolutely critical we learn how to best operate together in order to secure the sovereign skies above.”

Participating aircraft included F-22 Raptors, F/A-18 Super Hornets, 48th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagles, F-15E Strike Eagles, 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotankers and a NATO E-3 Sentry.

“It’s the opportunity to bring different types of air planes from different squadrons together in the same piece of sky for air combat training,” said Col Camilletti. “It’s the difference between practicing against your own teammates and scrimmaging against your cross-town rivals.”

The training integrated fourth generation and fifth generation fighters, as well as fostered cross-service relationship building.

“We know the capabilities of our own aircraft,” said U.S. Navy detachment commander E P Hadler. “But if we are going to work as a coalition, it’s important that we know and understand each other’s tactics and try to find out how we can get better.”

Complete control of the skies allows uncontested operation of joint and coalition air, ground and naval forces. Exercises like these demonstrate the U.S. and NATO’s ability to deter threats, assure allies and demonstrate the ability to employ combat air forces in a timely manner.

“We must train how we will fight, because when we go into conflict we will not be alone but be part of a much broader team,” said Col Camilletti. “We look forward to future training with more of our NATO teammates.”

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