By Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 17, 2020
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron takes off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 16, 2020, during an Agile Combat Employment exercise. During the exercise, Airmen trained to enhance our ability to rapidly deploy to and operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support, ensuring Airmen and aircrews are postured to provide lethal combat power across the spectrum of military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)
Tech. Sgt. Mario Osorno, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, right, speaks with an Italian air force member at Rivolto Air Base, Italy, Dec. 16, 2020. U.S. and Italian airmen spoke about the differences between the F-16 A and B models, which the Italians had experience with, and the C and D models, which are used by the 31st Fighter Wing today. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi Goodsell)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristina Bowers, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, in black, briefs Italian air force members on the F-16 Fighting Falcon during a training exercise at Rivolto Air Base, Italy, Dec. 16, 2020. While there, the small contingent of U.S. Airmen trained their Italian counterparts on aspects of the F-16 such as handling munitions and manually opening the cockpit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi Goodsell)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristina Bowers, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, in black, briefs Italian air force members on the F-16 Fighting Falcon during a training exercise at Rivolto Air Base, Italy, Dec. 16, 2020. Airmen from the 31st Fighter Wing met two F-16s at Rivolto for the agile combat employment exercise, testing their ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver within a short time frame. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi Goodsell)
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron takes off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 16, 2020, during an Agile Combat Employment exercise. The F-16s executed close air support at Rivolto Air Base, Italy. Airmen from the 31st Maintenance Group and 31st Civil Engineer Squadron also worked on the aircraft with Italian counterparts from the 2nd Wing of the Italian air force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)
U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, participated in an Agile Combat Employment exercise on Dec. 16, 2020, at Rivolto Air Base, Italy.
The 555th Fighter Squadron F-16s executed close air support functions and Airmen from the 31st Maintenance Group and 31st Civil Engineer Squadron worked with their Italian air force counterparts for the first time to receive and refuel the aircraft.
"It is with great prestige and a profound pride, not only for me, but for all the men and women of the [Italian air force] 2nd Wing to host U.S. Air Force assets and highly specialized personnel here at Rivolto airport," said Italian air force Col. Marco Bertoli , 2nd Wing commander at Rivolto Air Base.
Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st FW landed at Rivolto for the training, where U.S. Airmen met with Italian air force members to learn and discuss the capabilities of the aircraft.
“Training with our allies and partner nations is important to keep our jets in the fight,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Vincent Torpy, 555th FS F-16 pilot. “These types of exercises show that we have the ability to do these functions by ourselves but everything is more efficient and effective with our Allies’ support. Our Airmen were able to train and hone their operational and tactical skills while familiarizing our ITAF counterparts with our ground and refueling procedures.”
The exercise was designed to test the rapid deployment and maneuverability of aircraft and Airmen, enabling faster operations with a wider scope and reach outside of U.S. Air Force bases in Europe. The secondary function was to reinforce partnerships with our NATO allies, ensuring interoperability and cohesion throughout the area.
“The benefit to [this type of training] is that we can have aircraft availability all around Europe, not just stuck at specific bases where we would have to maneuver large quantities of people,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Borchansky, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft section chief. “It’s minimal manning and aircraft going all over Europe at a moment’s notice.”
Making these interpersonal connections reinforces our commitment to NATO and increases our interoperability, explained Torpy.
“Now we know our counterparts on a more personal level and it’s easier to make these connections with them in the future. These are basic steps to key foundational skills which will lead us to our overall objectives in the future,” Torpy continued.
These ACE concepts ensure forces in Europe are ready to protect and defend partners, allies and U.S. interests at a moment’s notice, and generate lethal combat power should deterrence fail.
"I thank the American component for this opportunity, which has proved to be very important for increasing the level of training of our Italian air force personnel,” said Bertoli. “This training is essential to maintain adequate operational and flight safety standards, not only nationally but also internationally, as requested by NATO.”