LEEUWARDEN AIR BASE, Netherlands --
F-15C/D Eagle aircraft and personnel from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, and the 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, dominated the skies as the 131st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron during the 12-day Royal Netherlands Air Force Frisian Flag 2016 exercise, April 11-22.
With exceptional skill, the F-15 pilots proved the F-15's continued prowess as the preeminent air superiority fighter, while the highly trained support staff and expert maintainers ensured 98% aircraft availability.
"The exercise has gone incredibly well," said Lt. Col. David Halasi-Kun, 131st EFS detachment commander. "The jets and personnel have exceeded performance expectations and our international partners have repeatedly complimented the professional and lethal performance of the 131st."
The detachment commander had only praise for the squadron's recent accomplishments, "I could not be prouder of the men and women of the 131st."
The Squadron, primarily composed of members of the Air National Guard, along with Airmen from Spangdahlem and Ramstein Air Bases in Germany, operates as a theater security package within Operation Atlantic Resolve to conduct training with NATO allies and partners.
During Frisian Flag, the 131st EFS worked with more than eight allied nations and developed many cooperative relationships, reinforcing U.S. commitment to our allies.
"The Frisian Flag exercise is like being at an international air show that only lets in other Air Forces," said Lt. Col. Peter Carr, 131st EFS maintenance officer in charge, "and there is a multi-national esprit de corpse in that, it's something I have not experienced before this deployment."
The ANG is uniquely positioned for these types of missions because so many of its members stay with the same unit for many years and partnerships and lessons learned persist in its collective memory, which can be leveraged on future deployments with our allies, said Carr. "And because we work together for 10, 20 and sometimes 30 years, it's a mature group of people that fights like a team and cares like a family."
The ANG, though equally trained, differs from the active duty U.S. Air Force because the majority of its members are part-time and hold full-time civilian jobs. As a result, members of the ANG bring to their military jobs a diverse depth of experiences.
"They are engineers, teachers, med techs, mechanics and home makers; launching, recovering and servicing F-15 fighter aircraft so that we can protect the homeland, as well as to provide combat air power to the combatant commander when called," said Carr. "Everyone brings unique experiences and points of view to the table."
As the exercise draws to a close, the 131st EFS prepares to redeploy to other regions in Europe to continue its overall mission to strengthen interoperability and demonstrate U.S. commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, prosperous and able to deter aggression.
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