US, Colombia Bolster Aerial Combat in Joint Exercise

The US military teamed up with the Colombian Aerospace Force in two exercises to improve the forces’ interoperability.

Exercise Relámpago VIII tackled defensive counteroperations and air sovereignty, while Exercise Ángel de los Andes focused on humanitarian aid and disaster response.

Both drills were held in Palenquero, Colombia, with special participation from the US Space Command for overhead imagery and weather forecast assistance.

Convergent Air Power

Relámpago’s air drills included mid-air combat maneuvering and refueling exercises, utilizing the US Air Force’s F-15 aircraft during some of them.

Colombian Air Force Maj. Gen. Carlos Silva Rueda stressed the importance of combining capabilities in air defense, adding that the two countries’ centuries-long relationship is a major component of the exercise’s success.

“We have a 200-year tradition of mutual support with [the US], and here we are at the tip of the spear of military technology and operational capabilities,” he said.

Conducted annually, Relámpago was established in 2014 to prepare the two countries against any future security issues that demand strategic cooperation between their space forces.

Colombia Aerospace Force (COLAF) Maj. Gen. Carlos Fernando Silva Rueda (left), Second Commander and Chief of Staff of the COLAF, shakes hands with U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Schiller (right), 125th Fighter Wing chief of safety, Florida Air National Guard, after a training sortie during exercise Relampago VIII in Palanquero, Colombia.
The US and Colombia tackled exercises focusing on interoperability between the countries’ forces. Photo: Senior Airman Bryan Guthrie/U.S. Air Force

Ángel Aids

Meanwhile, water rescue, earthquake response, and medical evacuation training were some of Ángel de los Andes’ primary drills.

US Air Force 612th Air Operations Center Commander Col. Matthew Vollkommer led the exercise and directed drills to align the US’ humanitarian aid and disaster response protocols with those of Colombia.

“Anytime you’re thinking about crisis response, it helps to know the people you’re working with. You develop a deeper sense of trust that will lead to success,” he said.

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