Task Force Falcon train air defenses during Saber Guardian

10th Combat Aviation Brigade
Story by Spc. Thomas Scaggs

Date: 07.18.2017
Posted: 07.22.2017 08:08
News ID: 242177
Task Force Falcon train air defense during Saber Guardian

10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Task Force Falcon completed several days of air defense artillery training alongside units from the 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command and Romanian Land Forces titled Tobruq Legacy in Capu Midia, Romania, from July 14-18.

The task force is currently deployed across Europe in support of U.S. Army Europe’s Atlantic Resolve mission to improve interoperability among NATO Allies and deter foreign aggression from the region. Tobruq Legacy was one exercise within the larger framework of Saber Guardian 17, which is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led annual exercise that took place in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and involved more than 25,000 service members from over 20 Ally and partner nations.

“This training allowed me to coordinate with some units that we don’t often get an opportunity to work with,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Gannon, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot with B Company, 2-10 Assault Helicopter Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI). “We talk a lot about radar threats and what indications we’re going to get, but it was nice to see their systems on the ground, how they use their systems, and how to better avoid detection.”

The training began with aviators and tacticians working together to plan routes to fly along a stretch of beach on the Black Sea where 10th AAMDC and the Romanian Land Forces had many types of radar systems setup for Saber Guardian. After routes and training parameters were set, the aviators would perform various aerial maneuvers to avoid detection by the systems while the tacticians would attempt to target them in the air. The training held immense value for each side, taking lessons that often occur in simulators and bringing them to life.

“This allows us to see on our weapons systems the actual threats that are out there,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Rojas, an AH-64 Apache pilot with C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade. “It validates everything we see in the simulator in the real world--in the actual aircraft, and allow us to practice our tactics and try to defeat these systems.”

To the units on the ground, Saber Guardian offered a unique opportunity to work hand-in-hand with what assets that are normally their targets.

“Saber Guardian and Tobruq Legacy is valuable to me as a tactician because it validates all the training we’ve put in up to this point,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Ontiveros, executive officer for D Battery, 5th Battallion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command. “From an Alliance perspective, it’s valuable because it’s rare for so many countries to come together and operate under the same roof like this. I think we’re making the most of it, and the alliance is stronger because of it.”