U.S. Air Forces in Europe led an all domain mission with assets from U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, and U.S. Space Command, over the Black Sea, July 22, 2020. The mission occurred in international airspace and waters within the Black Sea and was designed to train U.S. forces to integrate, operate and communicate while executing all domain operations.
The U.S. Air Forces flew F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, and MQ-9 Reapers assigned to the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2, Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland.
During the mission, F-16 aircraft conducted training scenarios utilizing Joint Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM) cruise missile tactics. The JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile that is designed to destroy high-value, well-defended targets. Training to this capability enhances Air Force readiness and deterrence capabilities.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. 6th Fleet integrated the USS Porter (DDG 78), currently operating in the Black Sea for Exercise Sea Breeze, and Patrol Squadron (VP-4) P-8 Poseidon from CTF-67, with the U.S. Air Force assets operating in the area.
This mission allowed for U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance assets to integrate into the 20th iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze, an annual multinational exercise co-led by the U.S. and Ukraine and designed to enhance interoperability among participating nations and strengthen regional security in the Black Sea.
Additionally, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe integrated MC-130J Commando II aircraft from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, within the training scenario to exercise special operations forces insertion capabilities that enable all-domain operations. “Conducting operations in the Black Sea ensures stability throughout the region. Our combined presence strengthens relationships with our allies and partners while sending a message to any adversary that we are committed to collective defense and ready to respond in a complex security environment,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander.
In an era of great power competition and in line with the National Defense Strategy, training missions like this are crucial to the readiness of U.S. military forces by demonstrating our capability to integrate platforms across all domains.