November 4, 2012 (by SSgt. Phil Fountain) - About 50 members of the Chilean Air Force participated in a training exercise with the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing here, Oct. 24-26, 2012, as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
USAF F-16s from the Texas ANG's 182nd FS and the FACh 3rd Aviation Group fly together during a joint training exercise near Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland on October 25th, 2012. [USAF photo by SSgt. Agustin Salazar]
The three-day exercise teamed aviators and aircraft maintenance crews from each organization, said Maj. Bryan Carlson, an instructor pilot with the 149th Fighter Wing. The training was designed to enhance the Chilean service members’ expertise in deploying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a multirole fighter aircraft, overseas during combat operations.
"Training fighter pilots for aerial combat is not new for the 149th," said Maj. Carlson.
The primary mission of the 149th Fighter Wing, known as the Lone Star Gunfighters, is to train U.S. active duty military, National Guard and reservists to fly the F-16. The unit has held its current training mission for nearly 20 years, and was previously a combat deployable fighter unit.
The Chilean Air Force deployed three F-16s and one KC-135 Stratotanker, an aerial refueling military aircraft, to JBSA-Lackland, Texas, for the joint training exercise, said Chilean Col. Leonardo Romanini, air attaché to the United States. This is the first time the Chilean Air Force deployed their F-16s abroad.
"The opportunity to share experiences, and get some training with pilots who have a lot of experience with the airplane is really, really good," said Col. Romanini.
The training consisted of air combat, air-to-air and opposed surfaced attack scenarios.
The operation was conducted as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP), which was established in 1991 to build cooperative relationships with nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc, according to programmatic documents. Since that time, the program has expanded to include 65 global partnerships.
The Chile-Texas partnership was formally established in 2009, Carlson said. In addition to Chile
, the state of Texas has been paired with the Czech Republic.
"This partnership offers opportunities for high-level exchanges and cooperation on civic-military activities," said Col. John F. Kane, commander of the 149th Fighter Wing.
"This visit builds on the foundation of the ongoing, professional relationship developed between the Chilean Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard," Kane said. "This relationship will facilitate the continued sharing of information and exchange of ideas long after the visit is over."