AF takes to the skies for Baltops 2015

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Battles
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force, along with its Polish counterparts, officially kicked off Powidz Air Base's portion of Baltic Operations 2015 with the first KC-135 Stratotanker flight from the 507th Air Refueling Wing here June 8.

Baltops, held June 5-20, is a multinational maritime exercise held in parts of Poland, Sweden, Germany, and throughout the Baltic Sea, and includes participation from 14 NATO and three partner nations.

"This is the 43rd year of Baltops, and is one of the largest ever," said Vice Adm. James Foggo III, the commander U.S. 6th Fleet. "During Baltops, we will focus on enhancing flexibility and interoperability, while demonstrating resolve of our allied and partner forces to maintain the security of the Baltic region."

The U.S., NATO and partner nations sent 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine and approximately 5,600 service members to employ land, air, sea and undersea capabilities.

As part of Baltops, the Air Force deployed four KC-135s to Poland from the 100th, 916th and 507th Air Refueling Wings, as well as 14 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 480th and 157th Fighter Squadrons, and three B-52 Stratofortresses from the 5th Bomb Wing.

"Exercises such as Baltops really allow us to test and practice all of our capabilities," said Master Sgt. Larry Nahalea, the Powidz deployed operations superintendent. "It also allows us to work with our NATO allies while gaining an understanding on how our multinational partners conduct exercises."

While supporting Baltops, participating forces will conduct training across a broad spectrum of areas including air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-submarine warfare and amphibious operations.

Other participating nations included Norway, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Canada, France, Denmark, Georgia, Estonia, Finland, Turkey, Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

Baltops is about maintaining NATO and its partner's common interests.

"NATO and our partners share a common interest in maintaining a Europe and Baltic region that is safe, secure and prosperous," Foggo said. "Baltops exercises have resulted in great success, and have created a foundation for the strong relationships we share with the Baltic States."

Along with Baltops, the Air Force is also participating in Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise Saber Strike 2015 and Polish-led combined exercise Eagle Talon in the Baltic region, all of which are supported by the aviation detachment located at Lask and Powidz air bases in Poland.

"Our 17-nation force is a testament to our collective commitment to regional stability," Foggo said. "For those nations not participating, we have, will, and continue to respect their sovereignty, their fleets, and their commanders. We will conduct our operations in a respectful and professional manner throughout this exercise. We expect the same from them."