U.S. F-35A Lightning II and F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets arrived at Ämari Air Base on Thursday, where they practiced tactical refueling in the course of the exercise Rapid Forge.
Rapid Forge is an exercise taking place in Poland, Estonia and Lithuania, in the framework of which F-35As and F-15Es and MC-130 tanker aircraft landed at Ämari Air Base, explained Commander of the Estonian Air Force Col. Rauno Sirk.
What made Thursay’s operation special was that the fighter jets were refueled with their motors still running.
MC-130 crews quickly refueled the landing fighter jets, after which the latter took off once again.
“Rapid Forge is an exercise in implementing air force units that provides us with a good opportunity to test units’ readiness to cooperate with our NATO allies, and for the first time in this region,” said Capt. Zachary Blasdel, head of the 352nd Special Operations Wing of the U.S. Air Force.
Blasdel added that the U.S. and Estonia’s respective air forces have cooperated closely during the course of the exercise, developing greater mutual understanding as a result.