Building upon a long history of cooperation between the United States and Hungary, members of the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa staff and 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Wing spent three days with partners from the Hungarian air force at Kecskemét Air Base.
The combined team conducted a successful expeditionary air capability event, working closely with their hosts from Hungary’s 59th Tactical Fighter Wing. During this event, the teams evaluated and assisted future plans for the Hungarian air force’s participation in Baltic Air Policing mission.
“The trip to Kecskemet Air Base is a great opportunity to further strengthen our partnership with our NATO allies,” said Lt. Col. Mark Sadler, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Wing commander. “Conducting cross-talk with the Hungarian Defense Force over the past several days better prepares their personnel and ultimately achieves mission success for Baltic Air Policing. USAFE Airmen are postured for such visits because we are already forward and ready for critical discussions.
“Not only do these visits strengthen the mission of ensuring air sovereignty over the Baltic region by sharing lessons learned, but they continue to build stronger partnerships throughout Europe,” he added.
The event included informative presentations from the Hungarian air force, in addition to a tour of the JAS-39 Gripen and MIG-29 Fulcrum airframes stationed at Kecskemét. The Gripen is a leased Swedish airframe the Hungarians intend to use during BAP missions. The presentation of capabilities and mutual exchange of ideas during this event were crucial in developing Hungary’s BAP capabilities.
“Deploying our aircraft and support packages is something we do on such a regular basis, it’s good to take a step back and see the process from a different perspective,” said Capt. Austin Deeney, USAFE logistics officer. “I was very impressed with the Hungarians’ planning.”
During the event, the air adviser team met with several subject matter experts of the Hungarian air force, discussing topics ranging from air base security to supply management. They also discussed the mission planning process and considerations while deploying to the Baltics.
“Bringing three different organizations together to form a successful event was great,” said Master Sgt. Simon Merfeld, 435th CRG Air Adviser Branch superintendent. “We each brought something different to the event, which really made for a well-rounded view on how we accomplish our mission.”
This Hungarian mission, the second this year and one of many planned in upcoming years, was another successful event for the dedicated Airmen of the 435th CRG’s Air Adviser Branch and the subject matter experts on the USAFE/AFAFRICA staff.
The development and enhancement of a NATO partner aids the Air Force’s goal of building mutually beneficial partnership capacity.