Farnborough 2018: Texas F-16s training with Czech Air Force
A two-week flying training exercise, known as Sky Avenger 2018 which involved Czech Air Force Saab Gripens, L-159s and Texas Air National Guard F-16s completed on 29 June.
Caslav Air Base around 65 miles (100km) southwest of Prague had hosted six single-seat F-16Cs and a pair of dual-seat F-16Ds from the Texas ANG’s 149 Fighter Wing based at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas from 15 June.
Two KC-135Rs from the Nebraska ANG tanked the F-16s six times on their nine-hour flight from Andrews AFB, Washington DC where they night-stopped before crossing the Atlantic.
The two tankers also participated in the manoeuvres and were based at Pardubice Airport about 20 miles to the east for the duration although they only worked with the F-16s.
Familiarisation sorties around the exercise areas on the first few days soon evolved into combined air operations (COMAO), allowing Czech Air Force pilots to train with the veteran ANG F-16 pilots.
Generally, there were two two-hour phases every day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon which saw the six F-16s fly with four JAS 39C/D Gripens of 211th Tactical Squadron and four L-159s of the 212th Tactical Squadron.
Air combat between the Gripens and F-16s usually saw 2v1 and 1v2 scenarios, sometimes right over the top of the base. While the L-159s generally worked with ground troops and Joint Terminal Air Controllers on the ground, the pilots also took the chance to practice their fighting skills with the F-16s in the air.
As one L-159 pilot admitted ‘it was great practice because we don’t get the chance to fight in the air very often – our main role is air to ground.’
Exercise director, Maj Miroslav Mika, told Shephard: ‘Most afternoons we flew shadow waves which were devised for unit training when the Czech Air Force squadrons took the opportunity to show new pilots in COMAOs and Dissimilar Air Combat Training… It was a great practice for everyone.’
Col Tim Madden, the Texas ANG’s commanding officer said: ‘Back in Texas, our job is to train new pilots in the F-16. Here at Sky Avenger, we are learning to how to operate together with our Czech Air Force colleagues which will ensure we can work together better if the need arises.’
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