SKOPJE, North Macedonia --
Two U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft from the Vermont Air National Guard’s 134th Fighter Squadron landed at Petrovec Military Airport, Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, Jun. 17, to practice Agile Combat Employment concepts while supporting NATO’s collective defense throughout Southeastern Europe.
The fifth-generation multirole fighters, currently operating out of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, performed rapid refueling and crew swaps, which are designed to return the aircraft to the air quickly with fresh crews, extending the length and effectiveness of aerial missions.
The ACE framework employed by U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa deliberately employs agile forces and capabilities through proactive movement from forward locations alongside Allies and partners to counter potential threats.
“The dynamic ACE construct enhances our ability to develop and employ resilient forces,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRCIA commander. “Exercising ACE maneuvers also gives us the chance to improve interoperability with our allies, which enhances the strength and unity of NATO.”
This exercise also demonstrates the value of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Since July 14, 1993, the Vermont National Guard has partnered with North Macedonia. This enduring relationship demonstrates U.S. commitment to its Allies and partners.
“Operations of the F-35 from the airports in the Republic of North Macedonia is the most evident example of strategic partnership and mutual trust between the US and the Republic of North Macedonia,” said Minister of Defense for North Macedonia, Slavjanka Petrovska. “It shows our commitment and readiness to face unpredictable operational requirements in this complex international environment.”
Imagery will be available on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service at https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/supporteuropartallies.