F-16s from the 425th Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., last week flew to Cold Lake AB, Canada, for a simulated allied air campaign with aircraft from nine other countries at Maple Flag 2012. “We regularly participate in Maple Flag and other similar exercises in keeping with our squadron’s mission of providing high-end training for our aircrews,” said 425th FS director of operations Lt. Col. Joshua Hetsko. He added, “These exercises provide an excellent venue for combat forces from NATO and other countries to participate in a large-scale, simulated combat environment against a complex adversary.” Replicating a United Nations-mandated allied air campaign, Maple Flag integrates airborne warning and control, air refueling, reconnaissance, airlift, and helicopter assets, in addition to strike aircraft. Luke’s package of nine F-16s and 100 airmen departed for Cold Lake on June 9 to join nearly 4,500 personnel from Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore. The exercise runs through the end of June. (Luke report by SrA. Melanie Holochwost) (See also Royal Canadian Air Force release)
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.