US Air Force Looks To 'Sharpen Combat Readiness' On North Sea Exercise

One hundred personnel and 38 aircraft took part in the exercise.

US Air Force (USAF) aircraft based in the UK, Germany and Italy have taken part in a training exercise over the North Sea.

It involved 38 aircraft, including F-15Cs, F-15Es, F-16s and KC-135s, and 100 personnel, with the aim being to "sharpen combat readiness".

Captain Nathan Hartoin, of 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, said the exercise, which allows US forces across Europe to coordinate and train together, is becoming a regular occurrence.

"The primary purpose of it is to conduct the training with the other USAF units to sharpen our combat readiness and increase the tactical proficiency which allows us to maintain a ready force capable of ensuring the collective defence of the NATO alliance," he said.

He added that video calls enabled planning during the coronavirus pandemic and further measures were in place to guard against COVID-19.

An F-15E aircraft taking off from RAF Lakenheath (Picture: US Air Force).

"Once we get out to the jets, there’s a procedure for decontaminating the jets along with the pilot flying and then decontaminating after the flight as well,” he said.

"And then, as pilots go out to the jets, they’re able to maintain social distance from their ground crews."

A spokesman for EuCom, the US European Command which co-ordinates military activity in Europe and has its headquarters in Stuttgart in Germany, said: "We have not seen an increase in threatening activity from any potential adversaries in the European theatre.

"However, we continue to train and stand ready to counter any potential threat that may arise."

Cover image: F-15C takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath (Picture: US Air Force).