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Military pilots face off at European one-on-one fighter competition

A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II taxis on the runway during Ramstein 1v1 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, 6 June 2024. Photo: US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Trevor Calvert

Military aviators from several international countries have taken part in a one-on-one fighter competition in Germany.

Military aviators from several international countries have taken part in a one-on-one fighter competition in Germany.

More than 37 fighter aircraft participated in Europe’s first-ever basic fighter manoeuvres exercise, Ramstein 1v1, at Ramstein Air Base on 6 June.

Aircraft include F-35A Lightning IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, Eurofighter Typhoons, Dassault Rafale Cs, F/A-18 Hornets, and a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk from nine NATO countries, including US Air Forces Africa’s first-ever basic fighter manoeuvres exercise.


“Basic fighter manoeuvring (BFM), sometimes called dogfighting, is a foundational skill set for fighter pilots,” said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Loringer, US Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa chief of weapons and tactics.

“It tests a pilot’s reaction time, physical stamina, and situational awareness. BFM is a coveted and timeless skillset, dating back to the first fighter pilots of World War I.

“There is no better way to build trust in a pilot’s aircraft or a pilot’s skills than to engage in a one-on-one BFM fight.”

During the exercise, aviators engage in a friendly match of basic fighter manoeuvres to test their rapid decision-making and precise reactions to adversary manoeuvres in a high-pressure, demanding setting – an essential skill for fighter pilots.

In addition to providing an opportunity to test their skills in a unique setting, the exercise bolsters relationships and esprit de corps among allies through the sharing of tactics, techniques and experiences – ultimately strengthening NATO’s collective resolve. Additionally, it allows the US and allies to learn from one another and foster teamwork in a safe environment, enhancing communication and interoperability.

Participants included military aviators from the US, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, and Germany.

Members of the US 86th Airlift Wing personnel also provided installation support to ensure the exercise was a success.

“This exercise is about preparation and being ready to deploy and project our airpower throughout Europe and Africa at a moment’s notice,” said Airman Basic Regis Dickerson II, 86th Logistic Readiness Squadron mobile distribution operator.

“The stronger our trust and connections becomes, the stronger our capabilities become. When we join together as one, this shows our adversaries what we are capable of.”

Members of the 86th Maintenance Group and 86th Logistics Readiness Group enabled flightline operations through various functions from marshalling aircraft to refuelling aircraft and providing transportation for crews. The 86th Operations Group and German counterparts also played a critical role in coordinating airspace, take-offs and landings during the initial arrival, exercise scenarios and final departure.

“As the Global Gateway, Ramstein is the cradle for this inaugural event and facilitates interoperability within the alliance,” Lt Col Loringer said.

“From petroleum, oils, and lubricants to transient alert to the 86th Operational Support Squadron, Ramstein 1v1 was only possible with the combined efforts of the fantastic Ramstein team.”

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