For just over a week now, ten A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft and approximately 270 Airmen have been stations at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, to participate in a flying training deployment.
The deployment and training efforts are funded by the European Reassurance Initiative as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which allows the U.S. to work with allies and partners to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.
“The long-standing relationship between Estonia and Maryland reinforces U.S. commitment to regional security,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Burns, Bilateral Affairs officer assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation. “The exercise presents the opportunity for both nations to engage in critical military movements and hone individual skill sets.”
The 175th Cyberspace Operations Group deployed with a Virtual Interconnected Training Environment. The VITE from the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Maryland, deployed in support of an overseas training exercise for the first time ever.
“The VITE allows us to simulate networks, any network we want, to conduct exercises and training,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jori Robinson, 175th Cyberspace Operations Group commander. “It allows us to do real world training in a simulated environment where it is safe to conduct these types of exercises.”
During the exercise, the A-10Cs will train with multi-national Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and Combat Control Teams at Amari and Jagala, Estonia.
In addition, an MC-130J Commando II from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, and a combat communications team will deploy from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
While deployed, the A-10C’s will also train with the Finnish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Finland, Spanish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Estonia and multinational JTACs in Latvia. Flight operations will take place in Finnish, Estonian, Latvian and international airspace. This training will focus on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.
“Working with various countries allows us to share and learn new experiences, thoughts and ideas while training for optimal preparedness,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tony Queen, 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight chief. “After all, you train the way you fight.”