Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath, England, dropped live weapons off the northwest coast of Scotland for the first time earlier this month. Air Force officials worked out a deal with the UK Ministry of Defense to use its range instead of sending members of the 492nd Fighter Squadron back to the US for their predeployment workup, according to the Feb. 25 release. “Dummy bombs were dropped several years ago for practice, but never live munitions to this magnitude,” said 492nd FS pilot Capt. Steven Smith. F-15Es pummeled a rocky island off the coast of northwest Scotland with 48 laser-guided GBU-12s over several days in mid-February. Joint terminal attack controllers guided the strikes, giving crew members valuable experience coordinating with ground elements, states the release. The Cape Wrath Training Center in Scotland plays host to live-fire segments of Joint Warrior—NATO’s largest combined air, land, and sea exercise in Europe.
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.