Press Releases

555th FS concludes participation in Falcon Strike 21

Release Number: 010621

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Derrick Powers, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aerospace propulsion journeyman, puts safety pins on an F-16 Fighting Falcon during Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 8, 2021. Exercises like FS21 provide a venue to train with other nations, build readiness, practice interoperability, and enhance enduring relationships. The exercise is a multilateral military training exercise conducting air operations in a contested multinational force environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Eric Broyles, 31st Operations Group international coordination director and F-16 Fighting Falcon evaluator pilot, sits in the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force F-16 before takeoff during Falcon Strike 21 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. Participation in multinational exercises like Falcon Strike enhance professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partner militaries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Eric Broyles, 31st Operations Group international coordination director and F-16 Fighting Falcon evaluator pilot, sits in the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force F-16 before takeoff during Falcon Strike 21 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. Participation in multinational exercises like Falcon Strike enhance professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partner militaries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron takes off during exercise Falcon Strike at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. Falcon Strike 21 is a multi-lateral military training exercise, designed to enhance fourth and fifth generation fighter integration, combat readiness and fighting capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron takes off during exercise Falcon Strike at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. Falcon Strike 21 is a multi-lateral military training exercise, designed to enhance fourth and fifth generation fighter integration, combat readiness and fighting capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Gunter, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant dedicated crew chief, inspects a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon before takeoff during Falcon Strike 2021 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. Falcon Strike 21 is a multi-lateral military training exercise designed to enhance fourth and fifth generation fighter integration, combat readiness and fighting capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Gunter, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant dedicated crew chief, inspects a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon before takeoff during Falcon Strike 2021 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. Falcon Strike 21 is a multi-lateral military training exercise designed to enhance fourth and fifth generation fighter integration, combat readiness and fighting capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron taxis off the flight line during Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) exercise at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 8, 2021. Six F-16C Fighting Falcons are participating in FS21 and are integrating with Israeli, United Kingdom, and Italian air force service members. FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.

Four U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron prepare to participate in Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 8, 2021. FS21 is a joint, multinational exercise designed to provide aircrew training through fourth and fifth generation integration. Aircraft participating include the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs and U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, Italian air force, and Israeli air force F-35B aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.

An Israeli air force F-35 Lighting II participating in Falcon Strike 21(FS21) lands at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 5, 2021. FS21 is a joint multinational exercise with participants from the United States, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, designed to provide aircrew training through fourth and fifth aircraft generation integration. Fifth generation capabilities include advanced stealth, improved electronic attack and electronic protection, and networked sensors for enhanced situational awareness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Airmen and Italian air force pose for a photo in front of a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, during Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 7, 2021. FS21 is an exercise designed to optimize integration between fourth and fifth Generation aircraft, increase the level of cooperation in the F-35 logistics and expeditionary field and strengthen interoperability of allied and partner air forces during joint operations and air defenses in order to maintain joint readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.

Italian air force Lt. Andrea Ciazza, 13th Group F-35 Lightning II crew chief, performs maintenance on a U.S. Air Force F-35 from the 4th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, during Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 7, 2021. FS21 is a joint, multinational exercise focused on the integration of the fourth and fifth generation aircraft with partner nations. Exercises like FS21 provide a venue to train with other nations, build readiness, practice interoperability, and enhance enduring relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

FS21 is an exercise that optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Josue Ramirez, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief, prepares to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron participating in Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 4, 2021. FS21 is hosted by Italy and provides multinational forces the opportunity to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge, while conducting complex air operations in a multinational, joint force environment. Six F-16C Fighting Falcons are participating in FS21 and are integrating with Israeli, United Kingdom, and Italian air force service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)


U.S. Airmen and six F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron participated in exercise Falcon Strike 21 at Amendola Air Base, Italy, from June 7-10, 2021.

Falcon Strike 21 is a joint multinational exercise with participants from the United States, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The exercise optimized the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft, increased the level of cooperation in the F-35 logistics and expeditionary fields, and strengthened interoperability of allied and partner air forces during joint operations.

“During Falcon Strike 21 we integrated with our allies, and really improved our interoperability between F-35 units from different countries,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Mac Onorato, 4th FS F-35 pilot. “We also integrated with our fourth-generation F-16s from the U.S. to test our ability to get together and fight on a common warfront and integrate with our tactics.”

The fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft conducted joint operations and air defense training to include air-to-air and air-to-ground strike missions and close air support near Italy’s west coast.

“The fifth-generation aircraft’s capabilities are intense,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Timothy Joubert, 555th FS F-16 pilot. “They're extremely valuable partners to the mission sets that we're used to flying and operating in. I would say for most of the F-16 pilots this is probably the first time they've integrated with fifth-generation aircraft on this scale.”

Italian air force F-35 crew chiefs also had the opportunity to perform cross-servicing actions on a U.S. Air Force F-35, showcasing forward deployable capabilities out of different bases.

“We’re testing our integration capabilities with our partner nations and also integrating with other nations’ maintenance teams in a way that hasn’t been done before,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. CK Lewis, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 crew chief. “Exercises like Falcon Strike 21 are important because this has the potential to change the way we interact with our allies moving forward.”

Along with 555th FS F-16s, aircraft that participated in the exercise included: U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft; U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft; Royal air force F-35B Lightning II aircraft; Italian air force F-35A and F-35B Lightning II, Gulfstream G550, F-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado, AMX International aircraft, Alenia Aermacci T-346 aircraft, and MQ-1 Predator aircraft; and Israeli air force F-35I Adir and Gulfstream G550 aircraft.

In addition to enhancing combat readiness and strengthening bonds between allies and partners, Falcon Strike 21 provided participants the opportunity to develop capabilities in planning and conducting complex air operations, leading to an advanced level of training.

“This multinational training event fosters the integration process between fourth-generation and fifth-generation weapon systems, a process that the Italian Defence and Italian air force have been conducting intensively since the very entry of the F-35 into the service,” said Italian air force Lt. Gen. Gianni Candotti, air force operational commander. “The close collaboration with the U.S. Air Force gave us the opportunity to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge, enhance overall coordination and strengthen bonds among nations who are operating the F-35.”

U.S. European Command and our NATO partners and allies continue to strengthen our deterrence efforts and adapt by improving readiness and responsiveness.