Experiment culminates, enhances partnerships

  • Published
  • By Andrea Jenkins
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

The Air Combat Command collaboration between 81st Fighter Squadron pilots and partner nation personnel culminated at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, June 14, 2022,

The departure of partner nation personnel and the two AT-6E Wolverine aircraft marks the end of a successful five-month long collaboration to further mature and co-develop tactics, techniques, and procedures. This effort was in support of countering violent extremist organizations while simultaneously demonstrating the capabilities of the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network (AERONet), an exportable and affordable data link.

“This collaboration, was not only a success, but it advanced US strategic objectives through security cooperation with our partners,” said Lt. Col. Gerald Ferdinand, collaboration director. “Pilots and ground personnel from all five participating nations combined our learned experiences to develop TTPs for countering violent extremist organizations with the affordable, exportable AERONet datalink system.  AERONet can advance joint all-domain command and control capabilities by expanding our network with existing partners.”

The 81st Fighter Squadron pilots, who were on loan to the 23rd Wing, flew the AT-6 aircraft alongside partner nation personnel from Colombia, Nigeria, Thailand, and Tunisia.

One of the priorities of the United States is to build coalitions and create shared knowledge of a common platform that partner nation personnel can employ and seamlessly work together, enabling the successes of any future operation.

Having served several years in the 81st FS, most recently as the commander, Ferdinand was one of the pilots to close this chapter and fly the aircraft back to the manufacturer.

“It was a bittersweet flight returning the AT-6,” said Ferdinand. “Security cooperation improves access and interoperability, and influences the great power competition in ways that other efforts--like developing new weapons systems--cannot replicate. I learned how each partner nation leverages their unique capabilities and limitations to accomplish similar missions. These lasting friendships can contribute to improved interoperability in the future.”