An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

USAF, RBAF bolster resolute partnership

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

A contingent of U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and maintenance personnel from the 77th Fighter Generation Squadron participated in an exercise hosted by the Royal Bahraini Air Force in Bahrain Dec. 5-11, 2020.

During the weeklong exercise, USAF and RBAF pilots flew alongside each other while maintenance personnel integrated to streamline operations.

“We are flying and integrating with RBAF in various mission sets to better understand how they employ and operate the F-16 and also give us a better understanding of how to work local flying procedures,” said a 77th EFS pilot.  

The exercise came to fruition after a request from Maj. Gen Hamad, RBAF commander, in order to facilitate a bi-national learning environment.

“We weren’t sent here on an advisory role,” the 77th EFS pilot said. “It is truly to learn from each other and boost our knowledge and effectiveness of our partnership. About 50% of the people who are flying here have been at least partly trained at one course or another in the U.S., so this allows us to build upon the synergy created there.”

Experience on both sides proved to be a key benefit for the pilots.

“Their air force is very unique compared to ours because you have the same people in the same or similar jobs for a lot longer,” said the 77th EFS pilot. “You see sometimes 30 to 40 years of active service. The experience and continuity that comes with flying for so long is incredibly valuable. It makes them very effective and that much easier to integrate.”

The exercise built on the strong relationship between the two counties that dates back 70 years.

“It’s not our first exercise with the U.S.,” said Lt. Col. Mohamed, RBAF F-16 pilot. We have had a great relationship with the U.S. for a very long time. We were very excited to learn the U.S. pilots would be coming here. It has gone incredibly well. I’m very proud of everyone’s performance.”

Mohamed highlighted relationships as the key to the strength between the U.S. and Bahrain.

Relationships are very important to us,” Mohamed said. “We like to see and talk to each other. We have confidence with each other. We can go and fight as one and we speak the same language in more than one way.”

The 77th EFS pilot said while there were many lessons learned, the relationships aspect that Mohamed spoke of was eye-opening for him.

“This has helped me understand just how important relationships are to the culture here,” said the 77th EFS pilot. “[Lieutenant] Colonel Mohamed and I were the project officers together. We’ve spent lots of time comparing training, tactics and operations. That partnership will allow us to be more effective in the future.”

While the pilots integrated in the skies, maintenance personnel from both sides had the opportunity to spend time around each other’s jets. Senior Airman Denny, 77th FGS avionics specialist, conducted pre-flight inspections on and launched a Bahraini F-16.

“As an avionic specialist I usually don’t get to launch our jets, but as part of the training I got to do it on their F-16s,” Denny said. “That was a pretty special experience. It is cool to get to do it with our jets, let alone a Bahraini jet. Our processes are very similar. Some of the things we do are in a different order, but it’s pretty much the same.”

While U.S. Airmen remained focused and deliberate with training, the 77th EFS pilot said the icing on the exercise cake was getting to pause a moment to take in the beauty of the country.

“It’s pretty wild to take off and see the water and entire country beneath you,” said the 77th EFS pilot. “It’s basically a fighter pilot’s paradise. Getting to see beaches for a hundred miles in each direction with the clearest water you’ve ever seen is spectacular.”

At the end of the exercise, Mohamed said the future is bright for the relationship between the two militaries.

“We are looking to keep these exercises going on,” Mohamed said. “We have learned a lot from each other and are looking forward to hosting the U.S. again.”