Royal Bahraini Air Force, U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighters Conclude Weeklong ‘Ballast Cannon’ Exercise

15.01.2024 Bahrain
Royal Bahraini Air Force, U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighters Conclude Weeklong ‘Ballast Cannon’ Exercise

Royal Bahraini Air Force, U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighters Conclude Weeklong ‘Ballast Cannon’ Exercise

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U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-16 fighters concluded a weeklong training exercise with the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF), Air Forces Central announced.

The exercise, named Ballast Cannon, started January 6 and lasted until January 12. In addition to the F-16s, KC-135 tankers participated in the exercise. Airmen incorporated Agile Combat Employment (ACE) objectives into the exercise, as well as practicing aerial refueling, coalition command and control, and tactical integration between the USAF and the RBAF.

“By constantly integrating with our partners at the tactical edge, while still testing our expeditionary capabilities, we are building readiness and developing operational approaches that complicate the adversary’s problem as well as maintains our strategic advantage,” Brig. Gen. Quaid Quadri, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Commander, said in a statement.

Images released by AFCENT show the F-16s participating in the aircraft to be from the New Jersey Air National Guard - the 119th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived in the Middle East in late October to bolster the Air Force’s fighter footprint in the region amid increased attacks by militia groups aligned with Iran and concerns about possible region-wide escalation of the Israel-Hamas war.

An Air Forces Central release emphasized that this latest exercise is a “routine” event, with new editions of Ballast Cannon occurring roughly every three months. Previous iterations have not been publicized, but the USAF and RBAF have worked together before, participating in regional coalition operations, contributing to missions over Yemen and Iraq against Islamic State group fighters. In 2022, the two organizations also conducted a subject matter expert exchange focused on the C-130J aircraft.

“Through decades of collaboration and cooperation with our wonderful partners in the region, we have developed key relationships, bolstering our ability to integrate and employ airpower across the coalition,” Quadri said.

Agile Combat Employment is the Air Force’s operational concept whereby teams of Airmen and aircraft disperse from large central bases to various remote or austere locations, where they can operate with fewer resources and move quickly as needed.

Bahrain has operated F-16s of its own since the early 1990s. In 2018, the Gulf nation ordered 16 of Lockheed Martin’s newest Block 70 F-16s in a $1.1 billion contract. After completing flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base, California, the initial batch of these jets are set to be delivered to the RBAF this year. (Air Forces Central Command; Photo: USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons taxi at an undisclosed location in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in preparation for combined Exercise Ballast Cannon © U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Megan Floyd)



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