US and allied pilots finished up a training deployment to Estonia on Sept. 2. About 300 USAF airmen and 16 F-15C Eagles deployed to the Baltic nation earlier in August to train with aircraft from Estonia, Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom during the exercise that supported Operation Atlantic Resolve, according to a 48th Fighter Wing release. The 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath contributed 12 of the F-15Cs, and the 194th Expeditionary Squadron—deployed to Campia Turzi, Romania, in support of a European theater security package—sent four. Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, commander of the 493rd FS, said it took time for the the units, which practiced offensive and defensive counter-air operations, to integrate and train effectively, but the effort paid off. “We are always trying to get to know each other and find out what each group’s strengths and weaknesses are, and, once that happens, the team performs very well together,” he said, according to the release. “What this [flying training deployment] provides us is building trust with other countries around Europe.”
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.