September 7, 2016 (by Capt. Amy Rittberger) - Four F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft and more than 100 members from the South Dakota Air National Guard, 114th Fighter Wing arrived September 3rd.
USAF F-16C block 40 #88-0422 from the 175th FS parks at Lask AB on September 3rd, 2016. More than 100 members of the unit are deployed in support of Aviation Detachment 16-4, a bilateral training exercise between the US and Polish forces. [USAF photo by Capt. Amy Rittberger]
The unit was deployed in support of Aviation Detachment 16-4, a bilateral training exercise between U.S. and Polish forces, aimed at fostering defense ties between the two countries.
"The number one goal is to assure our allies in Europe. To show up, have a presence, do a little bit of training and build partner capacity," said Lt. Col. Quenten Esser, 114th Operations Group commander, on the goal of AvDet 16-4.
The Polish have been flying the F-16 for ten years, allowing this exercise to incorporate a wide range of flying missions.
"We're going to be doing a whole mix of what the F-16 does. Air to air, advanced air to air, air to ground, and then we'll get into some close air support," said Esser.
While English remains the de facto standard among aviators, both guard and Polish service members work to recognize each other's various terms and expressions.
"The way they use their terminology might be a little bit different, so if you look at what we could be expected to do in the future, working with Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from Europe is pretty realistic," said Esser.
JTACs provide ground support to pilots by directing aircraft to designated locations to deliver close air support in a fight.
The 114th FW has been deployed to many different parts of the world, and is looking forward to adding Poland
to its list.
"The opportunity to go somewhere different is really good," said Esser. "For years we've been going to the desert and the pacific, and now we're in the European theater, so I think it's incredible to see the differences. I think it's good to see what our allies are like in different parts of the world, and it gives a chance to work with great people."