NORTH SEA HOSTS LARGE-SCALE USAF EXERCISE

Military radio monitors and virtual radar enthusiasts had a front-row seat in a significant large-scale exercise by the USAF yesterday over the North Sea. 

The skies on virtual radar screens of military radio monitors around the country were awash with aircraft as dozens of USAF aircraft launched to take part in the exercise from bases across Europe.

In the UK RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath aircraft would make up a large number of the participants for Wednesday’s wargames. 

The exercise, the first of many hopefully, is the first large-scale exercise seen in Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. The pandemic has resulted in number of pre-planned exercises being cancelled or suspended as the US military machine adapts to current restrictions and precautions brought on by COVID-19.

In total 38 aircraft were involved including F-15s from RAF Lakenheath, tanker support provided by the 100thAir Refuelling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, F-16s from Spangdahlem in Germany and Aviano in Italy and a NATO E-3 AWACS providing command and control. 

For the military radio monitors, it was callsigns galore and radio scanners working overtime scanning through the UHF military airband. 

Callsigns of note were: 

USAF F-16s
WEASEL
BUZZARD
VENOM
WARHAWK

USAF F-15s
PANTHER
CLAW 
REAPER
LUKA

The non-fighter aircraft used their regular callsigns of QID for the KC-135 Stratotankers and NATO/MAGIC for the E-3 AWACS. 

The exercise has been described by the USAFE as Dissimilar Air Combat Training and exposes crews from across Europe to new airspace to enhance combat readiness and increase tactical proficiency needed to maintain a ready force capable of ensuring the collective defence of the NATO alliance. 

It is expected these large-scale USAFE exercises will become a monthly occurrence the current COVID19 pandemic so for the military radio and aviation enthusiast, it looks like a welcome return to busy skies and military air action over the skies of the UK and Europe which will no doubt be somewhat reminiscent of times gone by. 

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