US and Greek fighter jets, the F-15Es and F-16s respectively, are conducting this week a joint military exercise over Greece and the Black Sea.
The exercise dubbed “Operation Castle Forge” includes a series of integrated training sorties from the Larissa Air Base in central Greece.
It comes as Greece is getting ready to sign an amendment to its defense deal with the US at the end of this week. It will mark the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), first signed in 1990.
“Castle Forge is designed to provide a dynamic, partnership-focused environment that raises the U.S. commitment to collective defense in the Black Sea region while enhancing interoperability alongside NATO allies. Additionally, Castle Forge demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence,” says the official press release.
“This is an exciting time across the theater as we host the Strike Eagles for some vital training,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA and NATO Allied Air Command. “Castle Forge will provide a number of opportunities to hone our capabilities alongside our allies in an absolutely critical region.”
The US F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, arrived at Larissa Air Base earlier in the week.
After supporting Castle Forge, the Seymour Johnson AFB’s F-15Es of the 336th FS “Rocketeers” will reportedly deploy to the Middle East for a total 6-month tour.
Greek US forces regularly conduct joint military exercises
Greek and US forces regularly hold military exercises. In August, a joint Greek-US aeronautical exercise was held in the sea area south of Crete.
According to a Hellenic National Defence General Staff’s announcement, the exercise, which is part of the ongoing military cooperation between Greece and the United States, included among others cooperation in the areas of joint operational planning, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, communication, information exchange as well as planes and helicopters cooperation.
A month earlier, Greek and U.S. Army Special Forces units conducted joint military exercises in Nea Peramos, Attica.
In the joint exercises participated two Special Forces units of the Greek Army (amphibian commandos and parachutists) and United States parachutists.
According to the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA), the program included theoretical and practical training in specialized use of explosive devices, tactics of armament use, rapid reaction combat strikes and parachute jumping.