Wednesday, February 24, 2016

493rd FS, NATO allies develop lasting, effective partnerships during Real Thaw

by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/23/2016 - BEJA AIR BASE, Portugal -- More than 100 Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing reported to Portugal to train with Portuguese, Belgian, Danish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish and other NATO ally forces, Feb. 22 - March 3.

Real Thaw is a Portuguese-led, large joint and combined forces exercise that
trains participating forces on a vast range of battlefield missions sets.
Forces participating will execute training missions aimed to merge and fully
employ different platforms covering defensive and offensive counter air
operations, high value air assets protection and close air support.

"It's an incredible opportunity to be here in Portugal," said Lt. Col. Rob
Fowler, 493rd Fighter Squadron operations supervisor. "We're excited to be
here working side by side with our NATO allies honing our joint air
inoperability as well as tactical skills."

Aircraft participating in the exercise include NATO E-3A aircraft, F-15C
Eagles from the 48th FW, C-130J Super Hercules from the 86th Airlift Wing,
Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as well as other partner aircraft.

"Real Thaw gives us the opportunity to train and learn from other countries
experiences," said "Buzzer," 301st Portuguese Air Base 5 F-16M pilot. "Here
we are able to effectively learn how to use each other's assets and how to
play together if there is ever a time we come together in a deployed

"Working with our NATO allies is crucial to joint inoperability." Fowler
said. "It's a good opportunity to plan, train and execute these missions in
a non-combat location so we're prepared if the day comes and we deploy with
our ally forces."

Participating in exercises like Real Thaw are an important component to
remaining "Forward, Ready, Now," for the 48th FW.

Real Thaw offers training opportunities for Liberty Airmen to train and hone
operational skills in a non-combat zone.

"We expect everyone involved to leave a better version of themselves.
Everyone; pilots, maintainers and anyone participating, we all need to leave
here with a better understanding of joint air inoperability and having
become more tactically proficient to keep the 48th FW and our NATO allies,
'Forward, Ready, Now", Fowler said.