US Air Force 48th Fighter Wing Agile Combat Employment’s Baltic Trident

Aircraft from the 492nd and 493rd Fighter Squadrons, and a small body of Airmen participated in exercise Baltic Trident at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, March 15-19, 2021. The exercise was centered on the Agile Combat Employment concept of operations, showcasing the 48th Fighter Wing’s multi-capable Airmen and their ability to work together with NATO allies and partner nations to effectively execute missions away from home station with varying levels of support and a smaller manpower footprint. ACE minimizes the reliance on prepared airfields by enabling the dispersal of smaller units to various locations and still meet operational needs.

“With fewer people, it meant everyone had to pitch in, step outside of their comfort zones, and embrace the multi-capable Airmen concept. The exercise was an incredible success. The team overcame every challenge we faced and achieved every objective for the exercise. Baltic Trident increased our interoperability with NATO partners and other regional forces, increasing our overall lethality. Building these important relationships now will pay dividends in the future and give us the edge if any future conflict were to occur.” said Captain Aaron Hieronymus, 429nd Fighter Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander.

48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen prepare an F-15E Strike Eagle to return to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, from Amari Air Base, Estonia after completion of Baltic Trident March 19, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)

“The exercise provided valuable training opportunities to our Airmen working alongside allied forces in the framework of complex air operations. Supporting the Agile Combat Employment concept of operations proves our readiness to host allied forces at any given time.” said Brigadier General Rauno Sirk, Estonian Air Force (Õhuvägi) commander.

Supporting eight aircraft’s operational needs would usually require over 100 maintenance Airmen along with several Aircrew and additional support personnel. Baltic Trident was executed with less than forty Airmen and Aircrew in total. On top of daily sortie generation and routine maintenance on eight aircraft, the team built training relationships with the Finnish Air Force, accomplished continuity training for German Baltic Police forces, and supported Joint Terminal Attack Controller training and Barrier Arresting Kit certification in Estonia. Embracing and executing the ACE concept of operations will strengthen resiliency and ensure the Liberty Wing is postured to protect and defend U.S. national interests and those of our allies and partner nations from anywhere within the European theater.

An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron departs after aerial refueling during Baltic Trident, March 19, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)