52nd FW ACE Deployment to the Netherlands

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Plyler
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany–  Airmen assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, from Sept. 10-17 in order to achieve two operational objectives.

First, they traveled to the Netherlands to execute a short-notice Agile Combat Employment. Second, they deployed to integrate with coalition F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II aircraft during the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense phase of the Weapons Instructor Course which included participants from the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium.

"This ACE deployment to Leeuwarden AB is significant because this is the first Spangdahlem ACE deployment to a non-U.S. base", said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shaun Loomis, 480th Fighter Squadron commander. "Learning these lessons in training is critical to ensure that the wing is ready to execute a real-world deployment if tasked. It highlights things we couldn’t even imagine during planning."

ACE operations provide crucial maneuverability and survivability for a fighter fleet during combat operations against near-peer adversaries. The ability to execute combat operations out of multiple locations is designed to provide more options for the Combined Forces Air Component commander.

"The integration with NATO F-35 Lightning II aircraft is paramount to unleash the full fighter capabilities to overcome the contested environments that our adversaries will throw at us," said Loomis. "Previously, Spangdahlem's F-16s were the only SEAD fighter platform in USAFE. Evolving SEAD capabilities with the effects that the F-35 Lightning II aircraft brings to the table increases survivability of NATO assets exponentially."

Prior to the Netherlands, the wing’s previous ACE exercises were held at Ramstein Air Base, simulating a host nation base.

“The Weapons Instructor Course and our participating air forces greatly benefit from the integration with the Spangdahlem F-16s,” said Royal Netherlands Air Force Maj. “Cribs”, Weapons Instructor Course commander. “Especially in the SEAD role where we can learn from each other’s experiences. By learning to use the 4th and 5th generation fighters we enhance our capabilities as a team and are ready to meet future challenges together”.