South Carolina Air National Guard supports F-AIR Colombia

Colombian Air Force Gen. Carlos Bueno (right) speaks to Master Sgt. Jeff Hopper, during the Force’s Feria Aeronautica Internaccional – Colombia in Rionegro. Bueno thanked Airmen of the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing for their support during the air show, July 16, 2017. The United States Air Force participated in the four-day air and trade show providing static displays of various aircraft to include the F-16, KC-10 and KC-135. During the air show the Air Combat Team’s Viper East Demo Team performed daily and a B-52 from US Strategic Command performed a flyover. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen D. Hudson).

Colombian Air Force Gen. Carlos Bueno (right) speaks to Master Sgt. Jeff Hopper, during the Force’s Feria Aeronautica Internaccional – Colombia in Rionegro. Bueno thanked Airmen of the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing for their support during the air show, July 16, 2017. The United States Air Force participated in the four-day air and trade show providing static displays of various aircraft to include the F-16, KC-10 and KC-135. During the air show the Air Combat Team’s Viper East Demo Team performed daily and a B-52 from US Strategic Command performed a flyover. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen D. Hudson).

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt.  Charles Bowen (left) and Staff Sgt. Matthew Parent, both assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, take a selfie with visitors to the Colombian Air Force’s Feria Aeronautica Internaccional – Colombia in Rionegro,  July 15, 2017. The South Carolina Air National Guard is supporting its State Partner with providing two F-16s to the air show at Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia from July 13-16, 2017. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. The South Carolina National Guard has been paired with Colombia through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program since 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen D. Hudson).

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles Bowen (left) and Staff Sgt. Matthew Parent, both assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, take a selfie with visitors to the Colombian Air Force’s Feria Aeronautica Internaccional – Colombia in Rionegro, July 15, 2017. The South Carolina Air National Guard is supporting its State Partner with providing two F-16s to the air show at Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia from July 13-16, 2017. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. The South Carolina National Guard has been paired with Colombia through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program since 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen D. Hudson).

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus many other displays.

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus many other displays.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, assigned to the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, assigned to the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team.  United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Thorne, a fighter pilot assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron, stands next to a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing while at José María Córdova International Airport duringthe Colombian Air Force’s Feria Aeronautica Internaccional – Colombia in Rionegro, Colombia, July 14, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Thorne, a fighter pilot assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron, stands next to a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing while at José María Córdova International Airport duringthe Colombian Air Force’s Feria Aeronautica Internaccional – Colombia in Rionegro, Colombia, July 14, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

A Colombian Air Force F-21 Kfir Fighter jet participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

A Colombian Air Force F-21 Kfir Fighter jet participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during F-AIR Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during F-AIR Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, assigned to the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)
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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, assigned to the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during F-AIR Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)
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Guests watch the aerial demonstrations at José María Córdova International Airport during F-AIR Colombia 2017 in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. The United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, assigned to the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)
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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, assigned to the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, participates in Feria Aeronautica Internacional—Colombia 2017 at José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia, July 15, 2017. The United States Air Force is participating in the four-day air show with two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s as static displays, plus static displays of a KC-135, KC-10, along with an F-16 aerial demonstration by the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team. United States military participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with our Colombian air force counterparts and facilitate interoperability, which can be exercised in future cooperation events such as exercises and training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

RIONEGRO, Colombia --

The South Carolina Air National Guard wrapped up a full week in Rionegro supporting its State Partnership Program during the Colombian air force’s air and trade show, Feria Aeronautica Internacional – Colombia, July 13-16.

The week started with two 169th Fighter Wing, known by as “Swamp Fox”, F-16s flying to Colombia and meeting up with the Colombian air force’s Kfir fighter jets based in Palenquero for some mid-air training. The series of radio drills and intercepts which lasted for an hour and a half were aimed at assisting the Colombians prepare for Red Flag that is scheduled for March 2018.

U.S. Air Force Col. Nick Gentile, 169th Fighter Wing commander, called the experience both “productive” and “a positive bi-lateral exercise”.

“To meet and exercise on a deployment down is a first,” said Gentile.

While this was the first time the 169th Fighter Wing had deployed and exercised fighters to Colombia straight from South Carolina, it was not the first time the unit has sent F-16s to Rionegro. In 2014, the wing sent 100 airmen and six jets here in a two-week exercise called “Relampago” or Lightening in Spanish. Each year the South Carolina Air National Guard participates in Subject Matter Expert Exchanges with the Colombian air force ranging from medical to legal engagements.

After arriving in Colombia, the 169th FW joined with a KC-135 Stratotanker from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, a KC-10 Extender from the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, and the Air Combat Command’s Viper East Demo Team from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, to participate in the four-day air show. U.S. Strategic Command also coordinated a B-52 Stratofortress flyover during the air show’s kick-off ceremony.

The Unites States Air Force’s participation in the air show provides an opportunity to strengthen the military-to-military relationships with regional partners and provides the opportunity to meet with Colombian air force counterparts.

“The Colombian people are extremely friendly and welcoming,” said Master Sgt. John Bonovich, 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-16 avionics technician. “They are eager to work with us, and good partners all the way around.”

 Bonovich said during the F-16 and Kfir intercepts some communications issues were identified and the South Carolina Air Guard assisted in correcting those issues to improve interoperability between the two air forces.

Bonovich, and the other Swamp Fox airmen, who came for the air show spent their week interacting with the public, shaking hands, exchanging hugs and posing for thousands of pictures.

The week also included key leader engagements between U.S. military and U.S. State Department leaders and Colombian air force leadership. The series of meetings throughout the week further strengthened the partnership and helped identify areas the South Carolina National Guard and the Colombian military can work together in the future.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chip Barton, Colombian Desk Officer at 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), said the week was a huge success.

“We are demonstrating our commitment to the Colombian people by our presence here,” Barton said.

The South Carolina National Guard has been paired with the Republic of Colombia through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program since July 2012.