U.S., French Airmen build trust in the skies over France

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Devin M. Rumbaugh
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of Team Ramstein traveled to Orleans-Bricy Air Base, France to conduct C-130J Super Hercules flying training with the French air force for an off-station training March 18-19.

Pilots and loadmasters from the U.S. and French air forces flew on each other’s aircraft to familiarize themselves on the similarities and differences in their operating procedures.

“One of the big things is that France is one of our partner nations,” said Capt. Christopher Espinosa, 37th Airlift Squadron executive officer. “We don’t get to train with them a lot. Being able to come out here and build a relationship that we can foster and train further in the future is an amazing opportunity.”

The French air force 2/61 Transport Squadron recently started the transition from their aging C-130H Hercules models, and began training on their newly acquired C-130J models in early 2018.

“For me specifically, I am training to become a multi-element flight lead and need to fly with three aircraft,” said Espinosa. “For us to be able to fly out two U.S. aircraft, and for the French to support a third, is an awesome training opportunity. Furthermore, we’re able to interfly with them, they are able to fly on our aircraft and see how we operate. We can provide some training for them, for this trip specifically, we trained on cargo delivery system procedures as they begin to develop their capabilities with the same aircraft that we have.”

This training marked the first joint C-130J training for both nations, working together and developing relations along the way.

“A lot of planning went into the exercise to make sure all the paperwork was in order,” said 1st Lt. John Kornahrens, 37th AS C-130J co-pilot. “It led to the fact that the opportunities are there, and with some of our partner nations, we can really get necessary training done for both parties in a joint environment.”

This off station training was important as the experience improved upon the capability of airmen in both militaries.

“It just shows that we are all on the same team,” said Kornahrens. “Just because we have a certain capability, does not mean the French do and vice versa. It always represents a learning opportunity for both countries to understand each other and how they fly, and their culture and how their military operates.”

The training ended with approximately eight cargo delivery system bundles dropped and approximately 20 hours of training flights accomplished in skies over France.

“The thing I want to communicate is how important theses partnerships are for the U.S. military, and for our allies,” said Espinosa. “It’s a global effort to combat terrorism, and the threat that we have in near-peer adversary, so being able to come out here to train and develop those partnership and relationships is going to be vital to our future of global security, allied security, and security of the homeland.”