Editor’s Note: In preparation for its upcoming deployment to participate in Operation Inherent Resolve, Air Force Global Strike Command has sent B-52H Stratofortress bombers to the Mediterranean. The aircraft will be taking part in Serpentex, a French-led exercise which features troops and JTACs from twelve nations, in addition to the French Air Force’s combat assets. This is a first for the BUFF, and it will undoubtedly impress!
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses joined French aircraft and ground troops from a dozen nations to kick off a close air support exercise in the Mediterranean Monday, March 7.
Serpentex, an annual French-led exercise, involves joint-tactical air controllers from 12 partner countries. Operating on the French island of Corsica, these JTACs work together to practice properly identifying targets and using that data to call in air strikes from nearby French and American aircraft.
“Serpentex is a great opportunity to have all the JTACs from coalition nations in one place, training together to increase interoperability and work on communication skills,” said Maj. Sarah Fortin, 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations. “It gives them a chance to train and get smart on what they have to do and what their capabilities are, so later on down the road when it counts, they can perform effectively and efficiently.”
Serpentex differs from other joint-military exercises in the region as it concentrates solely on close air support. This critical capability puts the power of precise, concentrated air strikes in the hands of troops on the ground, who can call these strikes in to defend themselves against enemy attacks or to eliminate vital targets with lethal accuracy.
This is the first year B-52s have been invited to participate in the exercise, as the role of CAS has traditionally been filled by various fighter platforms. The Stratofortress is well-suited for this application however, as it can loiter for extended periods and carries a wider range of munitions than any other aircraft in the U.S. inventory.
The original article in its entirety can be viewed here.
(Featured photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force)