KECSKEMET AIR BASE, Hungary: Four F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft and support personnel, assigned to the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, completed a forward deployment to Kecskemet, Hungary, from Campia Turzii, Romania, Sept. 15.
The 123rd EFS is part of the 142nd Fighter Wing located in Portland, Oregon, and is deployed as part of the European theater security package.
The four aircraft forward deployed in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve to train and test their ability to operate out of Kecskemet Air Base, strengthen interoperability, and demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of Europe.
“Overall, establishing the relationship with us being here and being able to communicate with them and integrate our training together solidifies our relationship with our NATO allies and makes it a lot easier for us to do this in the future,” said Capt. Aaron Lamont, a 123rd EFS F-15 pilot, while discussing the importance of gaining proficiency working with partner nation equipment and locations.
As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the Air Force integrated with host nation partners, a task that can be challenging but crucial to working together effectively in potential future conflicts, said Lt. Col. David Christensen, the 123rd EFS director of operations.
“Improving interoperability between countries is always important, especially if we have to work together in some kind of future conflict,” Christensen said. “Everybody is more comfortable with who they are working with and understands what’s going on so we can better improve our warfighting.”
Although the theater security package has brought U.S. aircraft to several European countries, this is the first deployment to Hungary for the mission, and also the first Guard TSP.
“It’s important to show that we are out here and care about what’s going on in Eastern Europe,” Christensen said. “It’s the first TSP, and it’s also the first Guard TSP so it’s important for the Guard to show that we are helping to support the active duty and all the missions that are out there.”
Guard or active duty, the TSP missions are about reassuring NATO allies and increasing combined warfighting abilities for the future, a point that is not lost on 123rd EFS Airmen like Christensen.
“Being able to come out here and improve their operating and making it so we are set up to be able to operate out of their facilities is a huge advantage for the future,” Christensen said.