493rd FS, NATO allies develop lasting, effective partnerships during Real Thaw

by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/23/2016 – BEJA AIR BASE, Portugal —
More than 100 Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing reported to Portugal to train with Portuguese, Belgian, Danish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish and other NATO ally forces, Feb. 22 – March 3.

Real Thaw is a Portuguese-led, large joint and combined forces exercise that trains participating forces on a vast range of battlefield missions sets. Forces participating will execute training missions aimed to merge and fully employ different platforms covering defensive and offensive counter air operations, high value air assets protection and close air support.

Brig. Gen. Barros Ferreira, Portuguese air force director of operations, speaks to U.S. Airmen as well as NATO and other ally forces during the opening ceremony for Real Thaw 2016 at Beja Air Base, Portugal, Feb. 21, 2016. RT16, taking place from February 22-March 3, is an exercise planned and conducted by the Portuguese air force, under the aegis of its Air Command, who are responsible for training and readying the operational units, through air operations in the defense of national interests, as well as through the participation in military operations in several international cooperation frameworks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber/Released)

Brig. Gen. Barros Ferreira, Portuguese air force director of operations, speaks to U.S. Airmen as well as NATO and other ally forces during the opening ceremony for Real Thaw 2016 at Beja Air Base, Portugal, Feb. 21, 2016. RT16, taking place from February 22-March 3, is an exercise planned and conducted by the Portuguese air force, under the aegis of its Air Command, who are responsible for training and readying the operational units, through air operations in the defense of national interests, as well as through the participation in military operations in several international cooperation frameworks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber/Released)

“It’s an incredible opportunity to be here in Portugal,” said Lt. Col. Rob Fowler, 493rd Fighter Squadron operations supervisor. “We’re excited to be here working side by side with our NATO allies honing our joint air inoperability as well as tactical skills.”

Aircraft participating in the exercise include NATO E-3A aircraft, F-15C Eagles from the 48th FW, C-130J Super Hercules from the 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as well as other partner aircraft.

“Real Thaw gives us the opportunity to train and learn from other countries experiences,” said “Buzzer,” 301st Portuguese Air Base 5 F-16M pilot. “Here we are able to effectively learn how to use each other’s assets and how to play together if there is ever a time we come together in a deployed theater.”

“Working with our NATO allies is crucial to joint inoperability.” Fowler said. “It’s a good opportunity to plan, train and execute these missions in a non-combat location so we’re prepared if the day comes and we deploy with our ally forces.”

Participating in exercises like Real Thaw are an important component to remaining “Forward, Ready, Now,” for the 48th FW.

Real Thaw offers training opportunities for Liberty Airmen to train and hone operational skills in a non-combat zone.

“We expect everyone involved to leave a better version of themselves. Everyone; pilots, maintainers and anyone participating, we all need to leave here with a better understanding of joint air inoperability and having become more tactically proficient to keep the 48th FW and our NATO allies, ‘Forward, Ready, Now”, Fowler said.

An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron sits on the flightline alongside Portuguese F16M during Real Thaw 2016 at Beja Air Base, Portugal, Feb. 21, 2016. Real Thaw offers training opportunities for Liberty Airmen to train and hone operational skills in a non-combat zone. RT16, taking place from February 22-March 3, is an exercise planned and conducted by the Portuguese air force, under the aegis of its Air Command, who are responsible for training and readying the operational units, through air operations in the defense of national interests, as well as through the participation in military operations in several international cooperation frameworks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber/Released)

An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron sits on the flightline alongside Portuguese F16M during Real Thaw 2016 at Beja Air Base, Portugal, Feb. 21, 2016. Real Thaw offers training opportunities for Liberty Airmen to train and hone operational skills in a non-combat zone. RT16, taking place from February 22-March 3, is an exercise planned and conducted by the Portuguese air force, under the aegis of its Air Command, who are responsible for training and readying the operational units, through air operations in the defense of national interests, as well as through the participation in military operations in several international cooperation frameworks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber/Released)

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