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Astral Knight 21: Liberty Wing trains with European Allies

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 48th Fighter Wing trained and integrated with allied NATO nations during Astral Knight 21, May 17 - 21, 2021, strengthening partnerships and rapid deployment capabilities.

Astral Knight is a multinational, integrated air and missile defense exercise conducted in the Adriatic Region of Europe designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and its NATO allies in the region.

Operating from Larissa Air Base, Greece, the Liberty Wing worked side by side with Hellenic Air Force, their host during the exercise.

“Forward deploying our forces to places like Greece gives us the opportunity to meet face to face with our partners and allies, which really maximizes the training that we get and increases our lethality,” said Lt. Col. Todd Pearson, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander. “Working with the HAF has been fantastic. They are very gracious hosts and a very capable, credible ally. We have capitalized on the training opportunities with them, and we have both come out of this better.”

The 48th FW also trained with military forces from Albania, Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia as well as U.S. units from around European Command enhancing the readiness, strength, and cohesion of these alliances.

The 48th FW deployed 12 F-15C/D Eagles and more than 250 Airmen from the 493rd FS, 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and other supporting units to participate in the exercise.

From pilots to crew chiefs and intel analysts to fuels technicians, each Airman enables the mission during a high-paced exercise like Astral Knight, be it from the sky or on the ground.

“Overall on this trip, the Airmen have absolutely knocked it out of the park,” said Pearson. “We’ve had an extremely high sortie generation rate, which is entirely a team effort. From the maintainers to the pilots and to the support, they’ve just absolutely crushed it.”

During Astral Knight 21, the Liberty Wing sharpened its ability to deploy capable, credible forces to operate from strategic locations, which is enabled by strong regional partnerships critical for a rapid united response to adversaries around the world. 

“The 48th FW lives, trains, and fights with our joint, allied, and partner nation brothers and sisters,” said Col. Jason A. Camilletti, 48th FW commander. “We fly wingtip to wingtip with them as we face ever-evolving strategic challenges. We will continue to participate in multinational exercises like this to enhance our warfighting readiness and our collective defense to ensure the Liberty Wing is always ready to own the skies.”