USAF-Led Exercise In Europe Aims To Sharpen Air-To-Air Combat Skills


Dozens of NATO fighter pilots congregated last week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany for a U.S.-led exercise designed to hone their dogfighting skills. The first-of-its-kind competition, dubbed “Ramstein 1v1,” challenged combat pilots from the U.S., U.K., Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany.

The meeting was assembled in light of Russian ground gains in Ukraine during the third year of the war that rages at “NATO’s doorstep,” as reported in the Air Force Times. The allied nations’ air forces envision a need to sharpen air-to-air combat skills as tensions with Russia and China threatened to boil over to a shooting war that would put some of the world’s most advanced air forces head-to-head for the first time in decades.

Aircraft on the ramp at Ramstein included U.S.-built F-35A Lightnings, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F/A-18s and A-4 Skyhawks, as well as Eurofighter Typhoons and French Dassault Rafales. Lt. Col. Michael Loringer, U.S. Air Force – Europe (USAFE) chief of weapons and tactics, said in a statement. “Basic fighter maneuvering is a foundational skill set for fighter pilots. It tests a pilot’s reaction time, physical stamina and situational awareness. There is no better way to build trust in a pilot’s aircraft or a pilot’s skills than to engage one-on-one.”

Last July, USAFE Commander Gen. James Hecker told the Air Force Times, “We don’t want to go to war with Russia, and I don’t think they want to go to war with us, either. But we need to make sure that we have the forces capable of deterring them so that nothing bad will happen.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


    • I think “they” are on a quest and don’t care much what NATO does as they will escalate with nuclear threats and massive propaganda campaigns. The only thing that will catch “their” attention is a very bloody nose and a worthless wallet. Wish it weren’t so, but it’s not Disneyland any longer.

        • That’s the 64+ billion dollar question. How about restoration of Ukraine’s border and return of the Crimean peninsula. That would be a serious propaganda failure for them and rather demoralizing, followed by inclusion into NATO for Ukraine.

      • Ukraine’s goal should be to reclaim Crimea and occupied regions and be allowed to join NATO, a key goal supported by President Zelenskyy and Western allies. Anything less than that is a win for Russia. There should be no Russian territorial gain in the end.

          • Racism is supporting DEI and putting the rights of those people ahead of the others. We must defend when theirs rights are in danger but not put those rights in front of the others rights. That’s racism.

      • There ya go again, Tom, with your DEI bullshit. How did you possibly live before you learned that racist dogwhistle?

        • I’m afraid Tom and Kent will not dismount from their political hobby-horses for another, oh, five months. And maybe not even then.

          This is why discussion groups (my first one was on ARPANET) always end up needing active moderators. Otherwise, they inevitably degenerate into flame wars that immolate all the thoughtful posters until they leave in frustration. But according to AvWeb, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

  1. No doubt 1 v 1 is great fun at taxpayers’ expense but does it really mean much? If you get to knife fight in a phone booth range you have totally screwed up.

    • I’m truly not trying to be disrespectful, but I’m going to guess you have no background in military fighter training or tactics.

    • F-35 only carries 6 missiles. Somebody is bound to survive and make it to the merge. Gotta be able to kill them also.

    • Not sure about the knife fight analogy but I have to agree with you. Looking at history it seems that most military are always prepared to fight the last war.

      I am not at all sure that continuing to pour money into air superiority fighters is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

      Long range standoff air to ground weapons and aircraft (whether manned or not) designed for close ground support might be where air dollars are best invested for future war. An undersea weapon system also might prove a significant deterrent.

      If there is a true gloves off conflict between major military powers in the near future the mighty naval and air forces of those involved might have a half life measured in a few days not months due to attrition from high speed long range standoff weapons. Even recent proxy wars demonstrate this vulnerability on a smaller scale.

  2. Since when is an A-4 Skyhawk and advanced fighter? I thought they were done long ago. Do they even use them in fighter pilot school anymore?