Two U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, conducted an Agile Combat Employment event in Guelmim, Morocco, June 16.
The F-16s took off from Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, and flew a close air support mission at the Greir Labouihi range before flying to Guelmim Airfield to practice the delivery of weapons and air support to a forward operating site. Then, the aircraft landed at Guelmim to reload weapons and refuel. The F-16s took off again and conducted a second close air support mission before returning to Ben Guerir. During the mission, the F-16s successfully delivered seven 500lb laser-guided weapons.
“The teams down at African Lion are taking ACE to the next level by executing it in Africa for the first time,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “Demonstrating these capabilities in new austere locations solidifies our unmatched ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible forces to any location.”
A C-130J from the 86th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, provided critical support to the event by transporting weapons, support equipment and essential personnel to Guelmim prior to the F-16s’ arrival.
The Royal Moroccan Air Force also facilitated the ACE event by coordinating fuel and vital logistical support at Guelmim.
ACE training like this is critical to ensuring USAFE-AFAFRICA forces remain postured and ready to operate effectively from all locations, even austere locations and newly established airfields.
The ACE event was part of African Lion, a multinational, joint exercise in North Africa that demonstrates the U.S.’ ability to mitigate global risk and operate in key environments with minimal resources. The Air Training Exercise consists of bilateral, tactical training between the Royal Moroccan Air Force and U.S. Air Force.
African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command’s largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, June 7-18. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. AL21 is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants.