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US Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing Execute Base Defense During Astral Knight, Saber Knight

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US Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing Execute Base Defense During Astral Knight, Saber Knight

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US Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing Execute Base Defense During Astral Knight, Saber Knight
US Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing Execute Base Defense During Astral Knight, Saber Knight

The 52nd Fighter Wing completed their readiness exercise Saber Knight in tandem with the United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Exercise Astral Knight 24 here and at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen May 8-15. The linked and simultaneous exercises tested the wing’s ability to execute air base defense at home station and at an Agile Combat Employment location as part of multi-nation, theater-wide Integrated Air and Missile Defense operations during a regional contingency. The exercises placed Spangdahlem in a contested and operationally degraded environment, pushing Saber Airmen to rapidly generate F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft sorties in support of Astral Knight 24 objectives while concurrently defending the base and recovering from simulated threats, such as cyber, drone, missile and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks.

“Watching them (Saber Airmen) come up with unique ways on how to get to a new place, how to get set up, how to continue to turnover aircraft, etc. was fantastic experience. It was really cool seeing everybody get out of their comfort zones and have that ‘mission-ready Airman kind of mindset,” said Capt. Christopher Chidgey, 480th Fighter Generation Squadron F-16 pilot and programs and plans deputy.

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron sit parked during Astral Knight 24, at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany, May 14, 2024. The recovery and response objectives center on restoring combat operational capability to main operating bases, if attacked, while simultaneously conducting offensive strikes from dispersed and forward operating locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Albert Morel)
U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron sit parked during Astral Knight 24, at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany, May 14, 2024. The recovery and response objectives center on restoring combat operational capability to main operating bases, if attacked, while simultaneously conducting offensive strikes from dispersed and forward operating locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Albert Morel)

“The 52nd FW’s capability to successfully execute two exercises at the same time–-one at the base level and one at the component-command level–demonstrates Saber Nation’s robust readiness for any problem alongside NATO partners. Spangdahlem is fit to fight in any conflict thrown our way. Being confronted by a myriad of problems pushed our Airmen to step outside of their comfort zone and come together as a team. From maintainers to security forces to medical and every unit in between, the wing as a whole stepped up to project airpower and secure Spangdahlem, no matter the scenario they faced,” said Col. Kevin Crofton, 52nd FW commander. “.”

Spangdahlem was not the extent of the exercise’s footprint, as the wing also tested its ACE capabilities by executing a short-notice deployment to Geilenkirchen. Saber Airmen set up the base as a forward operating location to conduct part of the wing’s contingency mission in response to a scenario where their home station was too constrained to fully support regional IAMD operations. U.S. Allies rely on the 52nd FW to rapidly and effectively respond to a potential crisis in their region. By conducting regular and challenging exercises such as Astral Knight and Saber Knight, the wing proves that Saber Airmen are ready to project airpower and execute base defense and ACE operations at a moment’s notice.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron sits parked during Astral Knight 24, at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany, May 14, 2024. Exercise AK24 is an investment in the ability for NATO Allies to seamlessly operate together to maintain a stable and prosperous Euro-Atlantic region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Albert Morel)
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron sits parked during Astral Knight 24, at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany, May 14, 2024. Exercise AK24 is an investment in the ability for NATO Allies to seamlessly operate together to maintain a stable and prosperous Euro-Atlantic region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Albert Morel)

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