by Staff Sgt. Eboni Reams
United States Air Forces in Europe
5/22/2015 - BEN GUERIR AIR BASE, Morocco -- Six
F-16 Fighter Falcon aircraft pilots assigned to the 480th Fighter
Squadron in Spangdahlem, Germany and support assets are deployed to
participate in joint and combined air training during Exercise African
Lion 15-22 May here.
African Lion is the largest Department of Defense exercise in Africa.
This year marks this first time the U.S. Air Force is participating in
the U.S. Marine Corps led exercise. The U.S. Air National Guard and Air
Force Reserve Airmen will also train. These Airmen will fly with the
Royal Moroccan air force F-16 pilots. German Armed Forces, British Armed
Forces, Netherlands, Belgium, Senegal and Tunisia are also
"The Royal Moroccan Air Force has been very gracious during this
important engagement," said Col. Pierre Oury, air exercise training
director. The Royal Moroccan Air Force is one of our most reliable
partners on the African continent, so we want to make sure to
interoperate with them and share our techniques, tactics, procedures and
also experiences. There's a lot of learning going on, on both sides."
Training will include first-time Royal Moroccan air force in-flight air
refueling with U.S. tankers and emergency landing barrier training.
These training opportunities enhance interoperability between the two
units, in turn, gaining a better understanding of each other's
"U.S. and Royal Moroccan Air Forces have a long standing friendship and
an exercise like this reinforces those mutual bonds," said U.S. Air
Force Maj. Dave Atkinson, air exercise training detachment commander.
"The opportunity to fly together allows us to demonstrate that we can
operate concurrently in the same airspace and work together for a common
Oury explained how the pilots will communicate in the airspace seamlessly during these flying missions.
"We have new digital link capabilities being used where Moroccan and
U.S. jets will be able to see each other on their scopes." Oury said.
"Also, air to ground sorties has also been added to the training mission
where in times past only air to air was accomplished."
The week-long training is loaded with practical operations training
geared to challenge the two militaries and streamline the allies' flight
"Exercise African Lion showcases how we can work jointly together, which
is the most important," Atkinson said. "We make sure all systems are
working and we're speaking the same language, not English but the same
aviation and tactical language. This exercise really helps with that
The exercise will end with a joint banquet of both nations' personnel
celebration the goals reached during the week-long training.
Oury shared his thoughts on a good ending note.
"True mission success will be once we reach all of our training
objectives with our partners and we have a safe re-deployment back