The 48th Fighter Wing, in partnership with the Royal Air Force, hosted Point Blank exercise. It lasted from 19-8 Nov. 14, 2019. Additional aircraft from RAF Mildenhall, RAF Coningsby, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Boulmer, and NATO participated in the flying training exercise over the North Sea.
Story by Airman 1st Class Madeline Herzog
The purpose of Point Blank is to exercise large force capabilities that incorporate current and future wartime scenarios. This iteration is especially unique in that it features special operations forces and the ‘Iron Triad’.
“The Iron Triad refers to three aircraft that work together to find and nominate targets and then pass those to airborne fixed-wing assets that can then strike that mark,” said Capt. Kevin Fogler, 48th Operations Support Squadron chief of tactical integration. “Finding targets that aren’t planned is very difficult with any one asset, so the Iron Triad is the team that works together to find targets in real-time to complete a mission.”
The trio includes the E-3 Sentry, the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, and the RC-135 Rivet Joint. The aircraft has the capability to identify threats on the ground for low-flying aircraft and provides the aircrew with more situational awareness for various circumstances on the ground.
“This will be the first time we bring in multiple big wing intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets for the exercise,” said Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Operations Group commander. “Having the Iron Triad will really allow us to get after joint all domain command and control.”
Participation in bilateral exercises enhances professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partner militaries.
“This holds our support section to a time frame,” said Fogler. “It’s all designed to replicate a mission set you would find in combat operations. All support in this exercise is revolved around that special operations objective, which is not normally how these exercises go.”
Other training objectives include infiltrating and exfiltrating special operations forces into enemy territory for a high-end reconnaissance mission.
“This is a unique opportunity for Air Force Special Operations Command mobility aircraft to be the supported force in a larger exercise and to integrate with our USAF, RAF, and other NATO partners,” said Major Alexander Burgess, 752nd Special Operations Group chief of weapons and tactics.
“Running these exercises and establishing contracts with these countries while learning how our assets fit together is critical to continue to present a credible threat to any adversary,” said Fogler.
The continuing contributions to develop and improve air readiness are significant in maintaining security and essential to the collective defense of the U.S., U.K. and NATO alliance.
“Our mission is to deliver worldwide responsive combat airpower and support, and exercise Point Blank ensures the Liberty Wing is ready 24/7, 365 to secure the sovereigns skies,” said Camilletti.