F-16s from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, recently conducted joint training with Hellenic Air Force F-16s from Souda Bay, Greece, on the island of Crete, officials announced. “To be able to fly out here and alongside the Greek air force and train in their unlimited airspace is absolutely phenomenal,” 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Operations Director Lt. Col. John Gallemore said in a March 9 release. The Spangdahlem jets practiced integrating with HAF F-16s in one-on-one counter-air exercises, up to large air-to-air engagements flying against HAF Mirage 2000s and F-4 Phantoms over Greece, Crete, and the Aegean Sea training areas, according to the release. The cooperative training event was the unit’s second to Souda in the last year “and because we already had the relationship, we’ve been able to achieve more than last time,” said 480th EFS Commander Lt. Col. David Berkland. The joint training event ran Jan. 16 to Feb. 13, according to officials.
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.