U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa on July 1 hosted a large-force exercise at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, including multiple types of aircraft from several wings.

The exercise sought to train aircrews from multiple platforms how to work together more efficiently and effectively to be ready to defend the NATO alliance, USAFE said in a release Wednesday. It particularly focused on matching multiple fourth-generation aircraft to improve their interoperability.

It included F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem, F-16s from the 510th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base in Italy, F-15 Eagles from the 494th Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath in England, C-130 Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England.

Spangdahlem’s 52nd Fighter Wing handled the logistics of this exercise, USAFE said.

“Airpower employment doesn’t happen by mistake; it takes a team of trained individuals working together,” Lt. Col. Patrick Kennedy, commander of the 480th, said in the release. “These exercises help build the next generation of air-minded warriors. The goal is to provide realistic combat training that can face advanced adversary forces. Exercises provide operationally realistic and highly dynamic scenarios.”

Kennedy also said the exercise helped airmen on the ground stay sharp.

“Across the major command, our maintenance squadrons spend countless hours making sure our aircraft are ready to perform the mission,” Kennedy said. “Also, our mission support agencies make sure the airfield is ready for use, the jets are fueled, and our emergency responders are prepared for any contingency.”

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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