Thursday, July 25
Operation Rapid Forge, run out of Spangdahlem Air Base (AB) in Germany from July 8-25, completed forward deployments to host nation bases in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland today. Through the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) funding and under United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa (USAFE) leadership, Operation Rapid Forge increases the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in Europe to support the collective defense and security of NATO Allies, while bolstering the security and capacity of U.S. partners.
The F-35A Lightning II and F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets, as well as other USAFE-based aircraft, participated in the operation, flying out of their home stations. The F-35s are deployed from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the F-15E Strike Eagles are deployed from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina and the MC-130J aircraft are deployed from the 352nd Special Operations Wing at Royal Air Force (RAF) Mildenhall, England. On the ground at Ämari Air Base, the F-15E Strike Eagles and MC-130J Commando II aircraft conducted rapid refueling exercises. The Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) is a United States Special Operations Command capability that allows the execution of refueling operations in situations where the use of conventional fueling stations or air-to-air refueling is unavailable. Integrated teams, featuring USAFE and Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC) forces, have been training on the ground in Estonian airfields to enable close air support (CAS), basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) and suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD).
The transatlantic strategic relationship between the United States and Europe has been forged over the past seven decades, and it is built on a foundation of shared values, experiences and vision. USAFE’s forward-based posture demonstrates America’s continued commitment to defending mutual interests and is the bedrock of our ability to respond to threats in the region.
The United States has provided more than $100 million in combined security assistance to Estonia over the last several years, and conducts nearly 150 military-to-military engagements per year, with over 60 of those taking place with U.S. personnel in Estonia.