News: Mountain Roundup acts as final stage for German air force training
Story by Senior Airman Samantha Crane
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The German air force will continue to train with U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines through the end of October at Mountain Home Air Force Base during the annual Mountain Roundup exercise.
"Mountain Roundup is an annual exercise that we have here hosting the German air force mission employment phase of their fighter weapons school, or their 'Top Gun,'" said Col. James McGovern, 366th Operations Group commander. "We've been doing it since 2004, and we're pretty excited to have them back here again."
More than 130 German air force personnel and eight PA-200 Tornadoes traveled from Holloman AFB, N.M., to conduct the final stage of training for two pilots and two weapon systems officers completing the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course with the German Air Force Flying Training Center. To them, Mountain Home is an ideal location.
"It's the airspace, the weather and the possibilities to have as much or as many different opponents or players we can include," said Lt. Col. Bjoern Jansen, German air force detachment commander. "We have all the opportunities to fly against the guys that are stationed here and coming from different places, so it's a great opportunity to be here."
"We're very blessed here to have the Mountain Home Range Complex," said McGovern. "It is a crown jewel range, it's one of the best ranges in the United States, arguably the world; it attracts a lot of foreign visitors. They've tapped into our secret we have here, which is a world class range, great infrastructure and typically great weather for the training."
While only the German air force uses the exercise as a "final exam" for their instructors, it still benefits other players by preparing them for future joint operations.
"We do full, multi-force integration and large packages on the Mountain Home Range Complex doing very advanced tactics and diverse scenarios that everyone benefits from," said McGovern.
Before traveling to Mountain Home, the aircrews being tested spent five months learning about the Tornado's capabilities and missions. Mountain Roundup tests everything they learned with various missions in both air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios. These can include attacks on vehicle convoys or defending high-value airborne assets such as tanker aircraft along with the classic red air versus blue air scenarios where players either attack opponents in their territory or defend their own airspace.
"It includes all the different scenarios we find on a battle field today," said Jansen. "You want to have experts on a certain aircraft and experts for the whole mission, so we train to be an expert not only for the Tornado itself, but an expert at employing a whole force."
While the training is deemed exceptional by all involved, it's also an opportunity to continue building relationships with NATO allies.
"The German air force has been in the United States since 1958, so we have a very close relationship," said McGovern. "As a NATO ally, they are one of our closest allies both in Europe and abroad, and they are also helping us in the war in Afghanistan. They've been a huge partner."