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40th flies with Formidable Shield

Formidable Shield

Senior Airman Clinton Begnoche, from the 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Aviano Air Force Base, Italy, marshals out Lt. Col. John Caldwell, a test pilot from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, during a local area orientation flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Aircrew from the 40th Flight Test Squadron recently returned from the squadron’s first-ever international deployment.

The 11 aircrew and support personnel took part in the two-week Formidable Shield exercise in Lossiemouth, Scotland.  The joint live-fire maritime exercise tested the ballistic missile defenses of naval and air forces from eight different NATO organizations. It allowed the allied forces to demonstrate missile defense capabilities using NATO command and control. 

The three 40th FTS and one 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron pilots flew F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base, Italy’s 510th Fighter Squadron during the exercise. The F-16s flew as “opposition forces” against a group of NATO ships, successfully firing two AQM-37 supersonic target drones. The goal of the integrated air and missile defense scenario was to test the ships ability to intercept the supersonic targets. As the final event of the exercise, a Netherlands frigate fired a SM-2 and an evolved sea sparrow missile at the supersonic target.

For the squadron, this was an opportunity to combine knowledge on test processes and partnered allied procedures in order to better suit future military needs.

“The dedication and preparation put into planning this deployment ensured a smooth execution. We’re proud to be a part of this exercise”, said Maj. Zachary Probst, 40th FTS F-16 test pilot.

Participating nations included the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Spain.