California Air National Guard C-130Js and F-16s from Misawa AB, Japan, flew to Jordan to join armed forces from 22 countries for Exercise Eager Lion. F-16s practiced escorting transports during a combat airdrop drill at the combined combat and humanitarian-relief event, according to a June 2 Air Forces Central Command release. “There are a lot of pilots who haven’t gotten to see these situations during real-world operations,” said Hercules pilot Capt. Sean Smith of the 115th Airlift Squadron, deployed from Channel Islands ANGS, Calif. “These scenarios are the most realistic training,” he added. The flying scenarios aim to “standardize flight tactics to make it easier to fly with people and aircraft we’ve never flown with before,” said Jordanian F-16 pilot 1st Lt. Saddam Mardini in a separate release. Eager Lion is the second Jordanian exercise with Air Force fighters participating in less than a month. Some 6,000 personnel are taking part in Eager Lion, which runs to June 8.
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.