From May 25 to June 8 during Exercise Eager Lion, pilots from around the world are taking to the sky over Jordan to learn how fliers from other countries operate during contingency operations.
Among these aviators are F-16 Fighting Falcons pilots from the U.S. Air Force and Royal Jordanian Air Force, both of who have participated in the exercise since its inception in 2011.
“Every time we fly with the Jordanians, we’re practicing real-world possibilities including air-to-air and air-to-ground missions,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Alex Vane, an F-16 pilot with the 13th Fighter Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan. “We’re figuring out how each other operate so that if something real-world does happen, we’re able to effectively work as a team and get the mission done.”
Eager Lion features scenarios based on modern-day security concerns. Countries participating in these scenarios intend to enhance mutual military capability through building partnerships with other countries.
“The main objective here is to develop a good relationship with the pilots and ground troops,” said 1st Lt. Saddam Mardini, an F-16 pilot with the Royal Jordanian Air Force. “We’re looking for new experiences and to standardize flight tactics to make it easier to fly with people and aircraft we’ve never flown with before.”
The significance of building strong personal and professional relationships now has the potential to pay big dividends, both in executing operations and in forging even more partnerships.
“Taking the time to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Jordan is important for the future,” said Mardini. “We’re setting a good example for other countries as they see how we deal with each other and work well with each other.”
The diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Jordan dates back to 1949 and over the past decade, F-16 pilots from the two countries have gathered annually during exercises like this one. The payoff: greater understanding from each side.
“I really enjoy what everybody brings to the table in terms of experience,” said Vane. “Underneath it all, we’re all fighter pilots. However, they fly and maneuver differently than we do, so it’s interesting when we are able to learn from each other and exchange ideas about how they operate versus how we operate. Coming together and sharing those ideas is very important in order to increase the strength of all our air forces together.”
Multinational exercises like Eager Lion are beneficial on a global scale because even though F-16 pilots from various countries fly the same aircraft and do the same job, they do it in different parts of the world. Coming together helps each side understand how they fit into the overall picture of accomplishing the mission.