Friday, August 5, 2011

Joint training builds NATO partnership

by 2nd Lt. Stephani Hunter
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/3/2011 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- About 230 Sabers recently returned from Campia Turzii, Romania, where U.S. and Romanian air force Airmen conducted combined training and strengthened the partnership between the NATO countries.

Spangdahlem sent Airmen from the operations and mission support groups, and maintenance and logistics readiness squadrons here, as well as 81st Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to the exercise.

"Dacian Thunder is a building partnership event that we have established with the Romanians," said Lt. Col. John Briner, 81st Fighter Squadron commander. "The three-week exercise involved close air support, combat search and rescue, and air-to-air training."

While there, Spangdahlem pilots trained with Romanian MiG-21s and IAR 330 helicopters and learned from the Romanian pilots and air crew. Pilots were able to explore the capabilities of the A-10C model, said Capt. James Schmidt, 81st FS chief of training.

"The [Romanian] helicopter pilots are more than pleased about how the exercise ran and about how [the Americans] acted in Dacian Thunder," said Romanian air force Capt. George Moldovan.

Training also included practice with the A-10C's situational awareness data link, which connects pilots to a network to help them decide whether to engage a target.

"We need to be proficient when we go downrange, and being able to actually use SADL during this exercise only makes us better warfighters," Schmidt said.

U.S. and Romanian air force Airmen worked daily to ensure mission-success during the three-week exercise.

"We flew 210 sorties in the three weeks we were [in Romania], which was only possible because of the maintainers, logisticians and mission support Airmen who came with us," said Capt. James Fuhrer, 81st FS chief of standardization and evaluation.

Dacian Thunder provides valuable training for both U.S. and Romanian air force Airmen, but building a partnership between the two countries is another important reason to hold the exercise.

"It has been an honor and a pleasure for everybody involved in the exercise to share knowledge and experience with their American partners," Moldovan said. "We hope to see your [Airmen] back here as soon as possible to continue our work and build our relations as partners and friends."


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