More than a dozen U.S. F-16 fighter jets and about 300 airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are in Crete training with a force which in ancient times ruled most of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas and parts of Central Asia: the Greeks.
The Falcons, now temporarily a part of the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, are conducting routine training out of Souda Bay with the Hellenic air force's 115th Combat Wing. The units are working on "combined flying operations between the countries to help identify and negate coordination concerns that may arise during real-world events," the Air Force said in a release.
U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa commander Gen. Frank Gorenc also flew with the airmen.
"One of the biggest things we want to do is work with the joint terminal attack controllers on the ground." Air Force Lt. Col. Timothy Murphy, 480th EFS commander, said in the release.
Exercises began Jan. 22 and are set to conclude Feb. 15.

The base out of Souda Bay is responsible for operational airborne support because of its strategic location, the Air Force said.  Throughout the next two weeks, the Hellenic air force pilots will train with their U.S. counterparts "to enhance their capabilities with different flying roles: air-to-air combat, suppression of enemy air defense, air interdiction, counter-air and close air support."
Check out pictures from the forward-deployed mission below:

Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East, Europe and Pacific for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. r