Tag: Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base

15 U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles Have Deployed To Greece For Operation Castle Forge

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - 15 U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles Have Deployed To Greece For Operation Castle Forge
One of the 15 F-15E Strike Eagles takes off from RAF Lakenheath to Larissa AB, Greece, on Oct. 6, 2021. (All images: Stewart Jack)

F-15Es from the 336th Fighter Squadron “Rocketeers” are currently stationed at Larissa Air Base.

Split in three cells of 5 aircraft, 15 F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, arrived at Larissa Air Base, Greece, in support of operation , a U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa-led joint, multi-national training event.

Flying as TABOR51-55, TABOR61-65 and TABOR71-75, the Strike Eagles made a stopover at RAF Lakenheath in the afternoon on Monday Oct. 4 and departed to Larissa on Wednesday Oct. 6, 2021 using the same callsigns. Our contributor Stewart Jack took the photos of the F-15Es at RAF Lakenheath that you can find in this post.

The 15 F-15E jets will support Operation in the Black Sea region.

- 15 U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles Have Deployed To Greece For Operation Castle ForgeOne of the F-15Es about to land at RAF Lakenheath on Oct. 4, 2021.

“Castle Forge is designed to provide a dynamic, partnership-focused environment that raises the U.S. commitment to collective defense in the Black Sea region while enhancing interoperability alongside NATO allies. Additionally, Castle Forge demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence,” says the official press release.

“This is an exciting time across the theater as we host the Strike Eagles for some vital training,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA and NATO Allied Air Command. “Castle Forge will provide a number of opportunities to hone our capabilities alongside our allies in an absolutely critical region.”

Alongside the F-15 operations, Castle Forge encompasses the USAFE MAJCOM-wide Agile Combat Employment Initial Operating Capability capstone event.

Training for ACE operations has become routine for units operating in Europe. The goal is of being strategically predictable but operationally unpredictable, as it was originally mentioned in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and capable of operating everywhere with minimal support.

- 15 U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles Have Deployed To Greece For Operation Castle ForgeTouchdown!

Here’s how we described the ACE initiative in a previous article: “ACE is a concept that envisions the use of agile operations to generate resilient airpower in a contested environment. This means dispersing forces across different or remote airports and support their operations with fewer specialists, to ensure that the U.S Air Forces in Europe are ready for potential contingencies by allowing forces to operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support. The purpose is “to become more agile in our execution, more strategic in our deterrence, and more resilient in our capability. Agility, Deterrence, and Resiliency are essential to defense and operational capability in a contested environment,” the U.S. Air Force in Europe website says when explaining the ACE Concept of Operations.”

After supporting Castle Forge, the Seymour Johnson AFB’s F-15Es of the 336th FS “Rocketeers” will reportedly deploy to the Middle East for a total 6-month tour in the “sand pit”.

- 15 U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles Have Deployed To Greece For Operation Castle ForgeStrike Eagle departs for Larissa AB.

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David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Tactical Air and Draken International Get Adversary Training Contracts

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Tactical Air and Draken International Get Adversary Training Contracts
An F-5AT of Tactical Air Support in flight. In the box: a Mirage F-1M of Draken International takes off for a training mission. (Photos: Tactical Air Support/Draken International)

About a week ago we reported about the contract awarded to ATAC on July 21, 2020 to provide adversary training at Luke and Holloman Air Force Bases as part of the Combat Air Force/Contracted Air Support (CAF/CAS) program. Tactical Air Support and Draken International have been selected within the same program to work at three air bases.

TacAir has been awarded a contract up to USD 90,4 million for up to four and half years to provide 800 flight sorties per year at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base (Oregon), in support of the F-15C/D Formal Training Unit (FTU). The company already provides adversary training to the U.S. Navy at NAS Fallon (Nevada) supporting the Naval Fighter Weapons School (NFWS), better known as TOPGUN, and the other units of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) using their highly upgraded F-5AT jets.

The F-5ATs (or Advanced Tigers) are former Jordanian F-5Es Tiger II acquired in 2017 and upgraded to replicate existing and emerging threat aircraft. Among the modifications there are a Duotech Nemesis radar and Argus Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Hands On Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS) controls, datalinks, custom Garmin 3000 flight deck with 14-inch main display and two 5×7 touchscreen controllers (the same system is used also on the Textron Scorpion and the Diamond DART-550) with a L3Harris Venom air mission software suite and Thales Scorpion Helmet Mounted Display (HMD).

Other than the standard CATM-9 missiles (captive inert variant of the AIM-9 Sidewinder) and the AN/ASQ-T50 pod (also referred as P5 pod, used for combat simulation during training), TacAir says that the F-5AT can also be integrated with an InfraRed Search and Track (IRST) system, Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) pods and air-to-ground ordnance.

Mick Guthals. Sr. Manager, Business Development at TacAir, told to Air Force Magazine’s reporters that the company plans to support the F-15C/D Eagle training with up to six F-5s by the end of September.

TacAir Draken Red Air 2 - Tactical Air and Draken International Get Adversary Training Contracts
One of the Denel (formerly Atlas) Cheetah acquired by Draken International. (Photo: Draken International)

Draken International was selected to work at two different air bases, with a contract up to USD 74,5 million for 1,000 flight sorties per year at Seymour Johnson AFB (North Carolina), home of the F-15E Strike Eagle FTU, and a contract up to USD 28,2 million for 530 flight sorties per year at Kelly Field (Texas, part of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland), home of the Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon FTU. Similarly to TacAir, Draken International already flies in support of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and Red Flag exercises at Nellis AFB (Nevada).

The company has a mixed fleet of AerMacchi MB-339s, MiG-21s, A-4K/Ns, L-39s and the newly acquired Mirage F-1Ms and Denel (formerly Atlas) Cheetahs, a South African major upgrade of the Mirage III with technology from the Israeli IAI Kfir, which is in turn derived from the Mirage 5.

Another air base that was expected to receive Red Air support is Eglin AFB (Florida). According to Air Force Magazine, Air Combat Command spokesperson Leah Garton said that ACC is working on an environmental assessment before awarding a contract for adversary air sorties at Eglin AFB.

ACC said in a statement: “The companies will provide realistic and challenging advanced adversary air training. The air support services are expected to begin in late summer 2020 at each location”. As we said when the first contract was awarded to ATAC, the majority of the “Red Air” aircraft during air-to-air combat training at FTUs are provided by the resident units, leaving less aircraft and instructors available for the students. By using contracted Aggressors ACC aims to solve this problem, easing at the same time the wear of the resident unit’s aircraft and allowing more pilots to be trained.

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