by Senior Airman Natasha Stannard
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
SWEDISH AIR SPACE -- Two A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, call signs Growler 11 and 12 from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, fly in formation in Swedish air space behind a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker after receiving fuel during the Baltic Region Training Event XII May 30, 2012. BRTE XII was a NATO exercise that included support from several countries including the United States, France, Estonia and Latvia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Trower) Hi-res
6/4/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Force 81st Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker participated in a NATO regional coalition training event at the Adazi Training Area in Riga, Latvia May 29 - 30.
The U.S. Air Force aircraft participated in the Baltic Region Training Event XII with French Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft, Estonian L-39 jets, a Latvian M-17 helicopter and a Polish MiG-29.
The purpose of the event was to provide training opportunities to NATO's forward air controllers and air policing assets through close air support, air-to-ground support, air-to-air refueling and quick reaction alert intercept training.
"This exercise gave us the opportunity to put together different training aspects into one sortie," said Capt. Brent Fleming, 81st FS pilot. "Occasionally we'll fly and we'll air refuel from point a to point b. This mission tied together ferrying aircraft and employing tactically while under the constraints of a longer time on station and a seven hour flight, and still being able to do our mission of air-to-ground to and from the target area."
The A-10s stationed here participated in the event to uphold the standard of joint close air support procedures, tactics and operations to ensure all aircraft and ground support involved can communicate seamlessly. This is especially important for the nations involved in BRTE XII as they regularly support one another in deployed locations, Fleming said.
The KC-135 crew stationed out of Royal Air Force Mildenhall kept the mission going as they performed in-flight refuelling for the Mirage 2000 and the A-10. This also gave the aircraft crews the opportunity to practice air-to-air refuelling manuevers.
"It was great to have the KC-135 show the lengths the Air Force can reach and how quickly we can reach them," Fleming said. "In four hours, we were half way across Europe employing weapons."
The A-10s also helped the Polish MiG-29 hone in on its NATO air policing mission at the Lithuanian Air Base Šiauliai through special quick reaction alert intercept training and touch-and-go air manuevers.
"We take away a lot of practical benefit from BRTE XII," said Lithuanian Lt. Col. Leszek Błach, Polish Military Contingent commander. "With the touch-and-go we showed our presence in the Baltic region."
For Fleming, participating with five nations to ensure peace and stability throughout the region and deployed locations was unforgettable. Fleming said there were some weather issues, but they were able to employ and provide low-altitude CAS.
"This is the first time we've employed in Latvia," Felming said. "We've gone to Finland and Poland for airshows, but we've never flown there tactically. It was good to show them what we could do besides just being at an airshow."
Lt. Col. John Liller, 81st FS pilot, who led the A-10 two-ship, shared his sentiments about meeting the mission objectives.
"This was an experience of a lifetime to fly the A-10 Thunderbolt II to the Baltic Region and conduct intercepts with Polish MiG-29s," Liller said. "Our objective was to fully integrate A-10 tactics, techniques, and procedures with ground assets and bolster bonds of cooperation for future exercises. This could not have been done without the support from the men and women of the 52nd Fighter Wing, the KC-135 from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, and the outstanding job by the NATO forward air controllers executing joint close air support procedures."
SWEDISH AIR SPACE -- A 52nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, flies off the wing of a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall, England, during Baltic Region Training Event XII, a multinational NATO exercise, May 30, 2012. BRTE XII included support from several countries including the United States, France, Estonia and Latvia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Trower) Hi-res
Note: Pictured is A-10C 81-0962 from the 81st Fighter Squadron.
SWEDISH AIR SPACE -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, approaches an RAF Mildenhall KC-135 Stratotanker for refueling during Baltic Region Training Event XII May 30, 2012. The NATO exercise included support from several countries including the United States, France, Estonia and Latvia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Trower) Hi-res
GERMANY – An A-10 Thunderbolt II, based out of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, based out of RAF Mildenhall, England, in the skies over Germany May 30, 2012. The A-10 participated in the NATO and partner air forces' Baltic Region Training Event XII, a two-day exercise that started May 29, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla) Hi-res
Note: Pictured is A-10C 81-0983 from the 81st Fighter Squadron.