JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – The 149th Fighter Squadron and 192nd Maintenance Group, 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard participated in Western Zephyr, a bilateral fighter integration exercise with the United Kingdom hosted by the 94th Fighter Squadron Feb. 23 to March 13, 2015, at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
Airmen from the 27th Fighter Squadron and 1st Fighter Wing Maintenance Groups also participated in the training exercise designed to utilize a combination of assets, from the United Kingdom and the United States, to better prepare for more seamless war-time integration performance.
Royal Air Force Airmen supported Western Zephyr with eight Typhoon FGR4 combat aircraft and 21 pilots during the exercise.
During the first week, 140 maintainers and support staff attended an orientation and worked one-on-one Raptor and Typhoon missions. The following two weeks, 24 missions were planned and executed. Each mission averaged 12 aircraft, which included Raptors and Typhoons, against 45 different adversaries.
Throughout the exercise, multiple units worked together to play as adversaries using aircraft from the Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force and Navy. Aircraft included T-38 Talons, F-15 Eagles, F-16 Falcons, F/A-18 Super Hornets and B-52 Stratofortress. Service members and units that supported came from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts; Air National Guardsmen from Washington D.C.; Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; and Minot AFB, North Dakota. The F/A-18 Super Hornet squadrons from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, provided additional adversarial support.
Seymour Johnson Airman further supported with KC-10 and KC-135 tankers for refueling capability.
In addition, Airman from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, provided surveillance, command, control and communications with two E-3 Sentries, commonly referred to as Airborne Warning and Control Systems or AWACS. Canadian coalition forces assigned to Tinker AFB in a military exchange program also participated aboard the E-3 Sentries.
Western Zephyr 2015 was the second bilateral fighter integration exercise held at Langley AFB between the United Kingdom and the United States. The Royal Air Force intends to host the next bilateral fighter integration exercise, said a participating project officer from 6 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Lossiemouth, Scotland.
“It’s important for us to train with the Royal Air Force, now more than ever,” said Col. Robert Grey, 192nd Fighter Wing commander. “Through this exercise, we are forging both personal and professional relationships that streamline our ability to communicate effectively and accomplish the mission together in times of real crisis.”
This exercise and the Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada, enhances the capability of coalition forces to respond to global threats as a united front, said a participating project officer from 6 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Lossiemouth, Scotland.
Red Flag was last held Jan. 26 to Feb. 13, 2015. This year marked the 40th anniversary of combat training exercises involving air assets from multiple branches of the United States military and coalition forces.