East Coast joint training goes international
A U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender assigned to the 305th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., refuels two Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor during exercise RAZOR TALON on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Feb. 7, 2013. RAZOR TALON is a monthly, large force exercise and joint-unit training opportunity to employ cutting edge operational concepts such as AirSea and Maritime Air Support on the Atlantic Coast. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin)
by 1st Lt. Keavy Rake
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/13/2013 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- "Under Air-Sea Battle, we will take 'jointness' to a new level, working together to establish more integrated exercises against more realistic threats."
Following those words from former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, retired Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, units from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., and other East Coast tactical and support aviation units did precisely this Feb. 7, 2013, during the first international and largest Exercise Razor Talon to-date.
A total of 75 aircraft, consisting of 12 different airframes, participated in the low-cost, joint service training opportunity. The large force exercise aims to employ cutting edge, operational concepts such as Air-Sea Battle and maritime air support.
In the most recent exercise, units executed a multinational planning process to tactically and operationally integrate multiple U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Royal Air Force assets throughout planning, execution and debrief. The tactical scenario involved friendly forces fighting their way into contested airspace while trying to destroy air-to-air and surface-to-air threats in a planned and time sensitive environment across the coast of North Carolina.
"We train with multiple services and international partners," said Lt. Col. Paul Birch, 4th Operations Support Squadron commander. We had six Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft participating in this exercise."
The LFE was designed to train aircrew in the suppression of enemy air defenses, surface attack tactics and airborne refueling while familiarizing diverse units in joint integration during a one-of-a-kind training opportunity. The joint service units involved are able to efficiently employ teamwork between air and naval forces while minimizing cost, said Maj. Ronen Segal, 4th OSS chief of fighter scheduling.
Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander, said conducting a Razor Talon exercise only incurs the normal cost of routine training flights, because aircraft launch, fly and recover from home station.
"This is a homegrown initiative started by the 4th FW to allow large force employment exercise opportunities for units along the East Coast," Leavitt said. "There is mission planning and briefings that go on between the various bases, execution in the air, then we come back and debrief from remote locations."
Many others involved agreed the airspace makes Razor Talon a viable strategic training ground and allows Seymour Johnson AFB units to remain on the cutting edge of operational concepts.
"We have some of the best air space in the country (for joint training) because on the coast of North Carolina there are Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force bases and we can all train together effectively right here at home," Birch said. "To do effective Air-Sea Battle (training) you need to practice where joint service units have ready access to water."
Dr. Milan Vego, Professor of Operations at the Naval War College, said he believes recent Navy and Air Force emphasis on future warfare, which might include joint maritime employment, has sparked increased initiatives to emphasize Maritime Air Support and other combined-domain training opportunities.
The Air-Sea Battle concept, one of several operational concepts previously approved by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Adm. Mike Mullen, was developed to guide efforts to train and prepare air and naval forces for combat. The vision for Air-Sea Battle is for different services to refine their cooperative efforts against a very capable enemy.
"(Razor Talon) has been growing. It started out more Air Force-centric, but we've now been able to incorporate our joint and international partners with a variety of platforms," Leavitt said. "We are getting increased participation as more people learn about it; in the future, we would like to incorporate more Navy presence and surface ships as well."
Exercise Razor Talon is currently scheduled to take place monthly throughout 2013.