The 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB, S.C., just hosted Operation Iron Thunder, a four-day exercise involving aircraft from various states and countries. One phase of the exercise pitted approximately 85 “Blue air” aircraft against about 15 “Red air” aggressors as Blue tried to protect a target; the other phase reversed the situation. Participating aircraft included USAF F-15Es, F-16s, B-1Bs, an E-3 E-8C Joint STARS, and KC-135 tanker. USAF and the Royal Air Force each sent an E-3 AWACS, while the Navy provided F/A-18s.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.