The COANG returns to Jordan to participate in Falcon Air Meet 2009

  • Published
  • By Capt. Nicole D. David
  • 140th Wing Public Affairs
MWAFFAQ SALTI AIR BASE, Jordan - In October 2009, members of the 140th Wing Colorado Air National Guard returned to Jordan for the fourth Falcon Air Meet (FAM), hosted by the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF).

Men and women of the 140th Wing provide support as competition judges for the exercise, as well as comprehensive Public Affairs support.

Colorado and Jordan are linked together through the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program, a program encouraging international cooperation, understanding, and the development of enduring relationships while building mutual capacity to tackle the world's toughest challenges. Jordan and Colorado participate in a broad range of security cooperation activities and in this case, bilateral familiarization events that lead to training and exercise opportunities. Because of this partnership, the RJAF requested the Colorado Air Guard, who also flies F-16s, to return this year to help implement the FAM competition rules, serve as judges for this year's meet as well as capture the meet through photo and video support.

"Both the Falcon Air Meet and Colorado's state partnership with Jordan offer great benefits to our Colorado Guardsmen by providing opportunities for real-world training and coordination," said Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, The Adjutant General for the Colorado National Guard. "I've seen our folks enjoy the exchange of ideas between various military units, and most lasting perhaps, some of our people have developed lifelong friendships with their Jordanian counterparts, which teaches them about the Jordanian way of life and the Middle Eastern culture."

The goal of the Falcon Air Meet is for participating and observing countries to prepare for future coalitions and increase strategic readiness. FAM brings together partner nations to demonstrate F-16 tactics and techniques through friendly competition and continuation training in airborne, ground, and maintenance events. This raises the proficiency and employment capabilities of all air forces involved, and enhances contributions to the security of each respective nation and the world. In addition, this international, intercultural event provides an opportunity to develop professional friendships and foster communication and teamwork across borders.

This year's FAM was even more unique than before because another Air National Guard unit participated as the AFCENT team - the 169th FW from the South Carolina Air National Guard. Having two Air Guard units involved in this event brought a new perspective and a wealth of experience to the RJAF and the Belgians, the other participating air force. Not only did the participants interact with each other on a tactical level, but they also had the opportunity to learn about each other's cultures and converse on a personal level.

This year's FAM had a different look about it than previous FAMs because the meet centered on a real-world coalition scenario that drove the competition events and all continuation training. The meet kicked off with a four-ship formation arrival, signifying a decisive air campaign and quickly turned into a simulated attack on the base causing F-16s to scramble in a large force employment. Once airborne, the F-16s performed a defensive counter air mission through an air-to-air intercept. During these missions, various air refueling sorties occurred as well, allowing the jets to stay "in the fight" longer. Eventually the jets needed to land and re-load weapons as quickly as possible to return to the air for an offensive counter air attack.

In addition, the countries participated in other continuation training including Basic Fighter Maneuvers (BFM), Air Combat Training (ACT), Large Force Employment (LFE), and new this year, Close Air Support (CAS), with Jordanian Special Forces and U.S. Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs). Jordanian Special Forces worked with U.S. JTACs on the ground and spoke to the pilots calling for CAS.

But the Falcon Air Meet is not just about competition. "The interaction between teams showed me how people matured, and that the idea of the FAM is not to compete and win trophies, the idea is to compete in a friendly way where we can enhance our relationship on a professional and personal level," said Brig. Gen. Yousef Al-Hnaity, Mwaffaq Salti Air Base Commander. And that is what was achieved during FAM 09.

Also among the competing countries were F-16 observers from Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, England, Greece, Italy, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Each of these countries came to observe in hopes of participating in the next Falcon Air Meet.

"This has been a great opportunity to work together in different scenarios as one team. The Falcon Air Meet is about building friendships, learning from each other and how we can help each other to bring peace to the region," said His Royal Highness Lt. Gen. Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein, Special Assistant to the Chief-of-Staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces

The Falcon Air Meet was a vision of His Royal Highness Prince Feisal several years ago. His vision is an ongoing reality and the Royal Jordanian Air Force hopes to host Falcon Air Meet in upcoming years.