SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. - “Under AirSea Battle, we will take ‘Jointness’ to a new level, working together to establish more integrated exercises against more realistic threats,” stated former Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz.
Following suite, units from Seymour Johnson AFB and other East Coast tactical and support aviation units did precisely this, Feb. 7, during the first international and largest-to-date Exercise Razor Talon.
A total of 75 aircraft, consisting of 12 different airframes, participated in the low-cost Joint service training opportunity. The regularly occurring large-force exercise (LFE) Razor Talon takes place off the Atlantic Coast and aims to employ cutting edge operational concepts such as AirSea Battle and Maritime Air Support.
In this most recent exercise, units executed a multinational planning process to tactically and operationally integrate multiple U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Royal Air Force assets throughout planning, execution, and debrief. The tactical scenario involved friendly forces fighting their way into contested airspace while trying to destroy air-to-air and surface-to-air threats in a planned and time sensitive environment across the coast of North Carolina.
“Exercise Razor Talon is a Joint Coalition large force exercise,” said Lt. Col. Paul Birch, 4th Operations Support Squadron commander. “We train with multiple services and international partners - we had six Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft participating in this exercise.”
The LFE was designed to train aircrew in the suppression of enemy air defenses, surface attack tactics and airborne refueling while familiarizing diverse units in joint integration during a one-of-a-kind training opportunity. The Joint service units involved are able to efficiently employ teamwork between air and naval forces while minimizing cost.
“This is a homegrown initiative started by the 4th FW to allow large force employment-exercise opportunities for units along the east coast,” said Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander. “There is mission planning and briefings that go on between the various bases, execution in the air and then we come back and debrief from remote locations.”
Leavitt explained that conducting a Razor Talon only incurs the normal cost of routine flying training, because aircraft launch, fly and recover from home station.
Hosting the exercise here is ideal due to the base’s central East Coast location and access to the Atlantic Ocean. The airspace makes Exercise Razor Talon a viable strategic training ground and allows Seymour Johnson AFB units to remain on the cutting edge of operational concepts.
“We have some of the best air space in the country [for Joint training] because on the coast of North Carolina there are Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force bases and we can all train together effectively right here at home,” Birch said. “To do effective AirSea Battle [training], you need to practice where Joint service units have ready access to water.”
Recent Navy and Air Force emphasis on future warfare that might include Joint maritime employment have sparked increased initiatives to emphasize Maritime Air Support and other combined-domain training opportunities.
The AirSea Battle concept, one of several operational concepts previously approved by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was developed to guide efforts to train and prepare air and naval forces for combat. The vision for AirSea Battle is for different services to refine their cooperative efforts against a very capable enemy.
“[Razor Talon] has been growing, it started out more Air Force-centric, but we’ve now been able to incorporate our Joint and international partners with a variety of platforms,” Leavitt said. “We are getting increased participation as more people learn about it; in the future we would like to incorporate more Navy presence and surface ships as well.”
Exercise Razor Talon is currently scheduled to take place monthly throughout the year.