F-15Es from the 336th Fighter Squadron “Rocketeers” are currently stationed at Larissa Air Base.
Split in three cells of 5 aircraft, 15 F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, arrived at Larissa Air Base, Greece, in support of operation Castle Forge, a U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa-led joint, multi-national training event.
Flying as TABOR51-55, TABOR61-65 and TABOR71-75, the Strike Eagles made a stopover at RAF Lakenheath in the afternoon on Monday Oct. 4 and departed to Larissa on Wednesday Oct. 6, 2021 using the same callsigns. Our contributor Stewart Jack took the photos of the F-15Es at RAF Lakenheath that you can find in this post.
The 15 F-15E jets will support Operation Castle Forge in the Black Sea region.
“Castle Forge is designed to provide a dynamic, partnership-focused environment that raises the U.S. commitment to collective defense in the Black Sea region while enhancing interoperability alongside NATO allies. Additionally, Castle Forge demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence,” says the official press release.
“This is an exciting time across the theater as we host the Strike Eagles for some vital training,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA and NATO Allied Air Command. “Castle Forge will provide a number of opportunities to hone our capabilities alongside our allies in an absolutely critical region.”
Alongside the F-15 operations, Castle Forge encompasses the USAFE MAJCOM-wide Agile Combat Employment Initial Operating Capability capstone event.
Training for ACE operations has become routine for units operating in Europe. The goal is of being strategically predictable but operationally unpredictable, as it was originally mentioned in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and capable of operating everywhere with minimal support.
Here’s how we described the ACE initiative in a previous article: “ACE is a concept that envisions the use of agile operations to generate resilient airpower in a contested environment. This means dispersing forces across different or remote airports and support their operations with fewer specialists, to ensure that the U.S Air Forces in Europe are ready for potential contingencies by allowing forces to operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support. The purpose is “to become more agile in our execution, more strategic in our deterrence, and more resilient in our capability. Agility, Deterrence, and Resiliency are essential to defense and operational capability in a contested environment,” the U.S. Air Force in Europe website says when explaining the ACE Concept of Operations.”
After supporting Castle Forge, the Seymour Johnson AFB’s F-15Es of the 336th FS “Rocketeers” will reportedly deploy to the Middle East for a total 6-month tour in the “sand pit”.
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.