81st FS conducts combined training with Romanian air force

CAMPIA-TURZII, Romania -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 81st Fighter Squadron stands ready on the flightline here Oct. 22 for an early-morning take-off. The 81st FS conducted more than 100 sorties during Dacian Thunder, a month-long combined exercise with the Romanian air force focused on enhancing their ability to execute combat search and rescue, air-to-air and air-to-ground, and weapons delivery missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)

CAMPIA-TURZII, Romania -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 81st Fighter Squadron stands ready on the flightline here Oct. 22 for an early-morning take-off. The 81st FS conducted more than 100 sorties during Dacian Thunder, a month-long combined exercise with the Romanian air force focused on enhancing their ability to execute combat search and rescue, air-to-air and air-to-ground, and weapons delivery missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)

CAMPIA-TURZII, Romania -- Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing play pingpong with members of he Romanian air force in a shared hangar here. About 250 52nd FW Airmen and five A-10 Thunderbolt IIs are part of Dacian Thunder, a month-long combined training exercise focused on combat search and rescue, air-to-air and air-to-ground, and weapons delivery missions. During their spare time, Romanian and American Airmen challenged each other to matches on the pingpong table, which stood between the 52nd Fighter Wing’s designated maintenance area and Romanian air force's MiG-21 maintenance area. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)

CAMPIA-TURZII, Romania -- Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing play pingpong with members of he Romanian air force in a shared hangar here. About 250 52nd FW Airmen and five A-10 Thunderbolt IIs are part of Dacian Thunder, a month-long combined training exercise focused on combat search and rescue, air-to-air and air-to-ground, and weapons delivery missions. During their spare time, Romanian and American Airmen challenged each other to matches on the pingpong table, which stood between the 52nd Fighter Wing’s designated maintenance area and Romanian air force's MiG-21 maintenance area. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)

CAMPIA-TURZII, Romania -- An 81st Fighter Ssquadron pilot prepares to shoot the A-10 Thunderbolt II's 30 mm seven-barrel Gatling gun during training at a range here Oct. 22. Precise weapons delivery is one of the 81st FS’ priorities while training here, as pilots are able to utilize many of the A-10s capabilities. “This deployment offers tremendous training opportunities for an A-10 squadron,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Stuewe, 81st FS commander. “We plan on maximizing the events that are difficult to obtain from home station – low altitude, chaff and flare employment, and basic weapons delivery.  The potential ability to utilize our Data-Link (a computer network for communication between aircraft) will be critical in the European Command Area of Responsibility and will truly allow the squadron to train like we fight.” (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)

CAMPIA-TURZII, Romania -- An 81st Fighter Squadron pilot prepares to shoot the A-10 Thunderbolt II's 30 mm seven-barrel Gatling gun during training at a range here Oct. 22. Precise weapons delivery is one of the 81st FS’ priorities while training here, as pilots are able to utilize many of the A-10s capabilities. “This deployment offers tremendous training opportunities for an A-10 squadron,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Stuewe, 81st FS commander. “We plan on maximizing the events that are difficult to obtain from home station – low altitude, chaff and flare employment, and basic weapons delivery. The potential ability to utilize our Data-Link (a computer network for communication between aircraft) will be critical in the European Command Area of Responsibility and will truly allow the squadron to train like we fight.” (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)

CAMPIA TURZII, Romania -- The 81st Fighter Squadron has teamed up with the Romanian Air Force to conduct training and exchange perspectives to help boost mission capabilities and foster collaboration among NATO partners. 

About 250 Airmen and five A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 52nd Fighter Wing are part of Dacian Thunder, a combined training exercise with the Romanian air force, aimed at enhancing both countries' ability to conduct combined search and rescue operations, air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties, and weapons delivery. 

So far, the squadron has completed more than 70 sorties, about 20 of which have been in conjunction with Romanian air force assets, including Super Puma helicopters and MiG-21s. 

"We're very excited to be here," said Lt. Col. Ronald Stuewe, 81st FS commander, "not just for our training aspect - which is considerable - but our ability to engage in work with our NATO partners - with the Romanians." 

"This deployment offers tremendous training opportunities for an A-10 squadron," Colonel Stuewe added. "We plan on maximizing the events that are difficult to obtain from home station - low altitude, chaff and flare employment, and basic weapons delivery." 

This includes the A-10-C's Situational Awareness Data Link, a computer network that connects pilots to each other and ground forces making weapons delivery a more accurate, efficient process. 

"The training has been outstanding because we've been able to utilize the full capabilities of our aircraft," said Capt. David Befort, an 81st FS pilot. 

Besides being able to flex all the A-10's muscles, the experience of flying over new terrain is also exciting, Colonel Stuewe said. 

"On the flying side, the countryside is absolutely beautiful. It's a very nice time of year - the trees are turning, there's snow on the mountains and there's beautiful terrain in the valleys," he said.