The US Air Force forward deployed F-35 jets to bases in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia as part of Operation Rapid Forge.
This Operation is a US Air Forces in Europe-led mission to test their ability to function at locations other than main operating bases, and in more austere environments.
The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability with NATO allies, to improve readiness and sharpen operational capabilities.
In order for NATO nations to be prepared and trained to respond to any arising threat, this type of training activity is essential say the US Air Force.
“At Powidz Air Base, Poland and at Šiauilai Air Base, Lithuania, F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, F-15E Strike Eagles, C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and multifunctional Airmen conducted rapid refueling and re-arming using inert munitions. F-15E Strike Eagles and MC-130J Commando II aircraft deployed to Ämari Air Base, Estonia, where multifunctional Airmen refuelled the fighter aircraft directly from the MC-130J.
This type of exercise tests the U.S. Air Force’s ability to rapidly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams to austere and potentially contested areas. Another benefit of this operation is the improvement of working in a team, consisting of different nations, with different military backgrounds, but with one common goal, securing the skies of NATO’s territory and its population. Over the course of the next days, the jets will conduct more training at other locations in the region.”
The F-35s are deployed from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah say the NATO Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office.