Graf Ignatievo airbase is currently a location place where the US aircraft of the USAF 74th Squadron are stationed, as a part of the support package (Theater Security Package), dedicated for the European allies. The initiative in question assumes that the air forces stationed in Europe are periodically supported by the units that are based in the United States of America on a daily basis. The pilots are involved in training related to austere landing operations, simulating the frontline conditions.
According to the commander of the American unit, Lt. Col. Bryan France, thanks to the fact that such training is conducted, the pilots of the squadron are going to get involved in training operations, the purpose of which is to get them used and prepared to land on a variety of surfaces. This will allow them to use forward landing locations which are often not tailored to accommodate modern aircraft.
The landing locations had been marked prior to the operations by the ATC services. However, the fact that such locations are being used is not new for the aviators staying in Europe, within the framework of the Theater Security Package. Similar operations are also carried out by the MC-130J Commando II crews of the 67th Special Operations Squadron.
Similarly as in case of the A-10 attack aircraft, possibility and ability to use unprepared runways may have a key value, within the scope of effective execution of the mission objectives. MC-130J Commando II aircraft may be used to transport the equipment and supplies required to established a forward refuelling point. Such location may start to be active even in 15 minutes after the Commando II lands there.
Besides the austere runway operations, the US forces are also carrying out training related to the refuelling operations.
As it is stressed by the American pilots, thanks to the fusion of capabilities offered by a forward refuelling base with the austere landing strips skills, the options related to employment of the close air support assets are significantly expanded, since in case of the CAS operations, success is often a matter of minutes.
Similar exercise, within which training related to austere landing locations was carried out, was organized last year in Poland, in the Nowe Miasto area, close to the Pilica river. Deployment of the A-10 aircraft in Europe is a part of periodic reinforcement of the USAF European units, by elements that are permanently stationed in the United States of America. This type of activities began in the light of the Ukrainian crisis.