Spangdahlem Airmen deploy to Portugal for training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Szu-Moy Ruiz
  • Detachment 9, Air Force News Agency
Airmen of the 81st Fighter Squadron left Germany and flew to Portugal to conduct training Jan. 5 through 31.

The winter months at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, do not allow much flying time, so the Portuguese government opened its air space and allowed the 81st FS to conduct low-flying training flights.

The Portuguese air force coordinated with the Americans to make sure everything went off without a hitch at Campo de Tiro de Alcochete, the only Portuguese firing range. This is also where most of the training occurred.

The experience and training could not have gone better, said Capt. Jason Bartels, an 81st FS A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot.

"The training has been phenomenal," he said. "You would think there would be a major problem with the language barrier because none of our people speak Portuguese but the international flying language is English."

The A-10 pilots were able to shoot their 30 mm, seven-barrel Gatling guns at high- and low-flying altitudes. Pilots were also given the opportunity to get a ground's eye-view of their targets, something they are rarely able do.

On this temporary duty assignment, Capt. David Marshall, an 81st FS A-10 pilot, had the opportunity to get up close and personal with his targets.

"The target is a lot bigger than I thought it would be," Captain Marshall said. "When you're flying and trying to shoot the target from about a mile and a half away, it looks like this tiny dot. But, the target really is bigger than a barn door. I'm glad we came out here to train so that we can receive more experience."

This exercise also gives the Portuguese and American forces a forum to exchange ideas. The things learned here can be shared with their Portuguese neighbors, who are also part of NATO and can deploy in support of the war on terrorism.

"There are some things that (the Portuguese) thought about that we haven't and vice versa," Captain Bartels said. "It's just been a great experience."

Comment on this story (comments may be published on Air Force Link)

Click here to view the comments/letters page