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Colombian Air Force team visits McEntire

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jim St.Clair
  • JFHQ-SC Public Affairs
A team of five Colombian Air Force officers toured McEntire Joint National Guard Base Tuesday as part of a U.S. visit to gather information about F-16 operations and maintenance.

This visit is the latest engagement of the newly formed State Partnership Program (SPP) between South Carolina and the Republic of Colombia. South Carolina and Colombia formally established their bilateral relationship last year. The SPP is a joint venture of equal partners and as well as one of shared responsibilities in addressing transnational concerns.

Tuesday's visit was a follow on from April when General Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla, the Commander of the Colombian Air Force, toured McEntire JNGB and expressed interest in the SCANG's F-16s, especially the maintenance and logistics facilities required to support that aircraft. Pinilla said Colombia is planning on purchasing F-16s in the near future and said he will need advice and guidance from their state partner, South Carolina.

The Colombian Team was led by Brig. Gen. Ramses Rueda, an active duty pilot and Director of the Colombian Air Force Officer's Academy. General Rueda was accompanied by Maj. Robinson Florez, Capts. Carlos Caldas and Alex Martinez and Lt. Perez Sosa Giovanni Andres.

After a briefing from 169th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Michael Manning, the Colombians went on a tour of the 169th Operation Group, 169th Maintenance Group and had an avionics demonstration on the flight line.

After departing McEntire, the Colombian team flew to Ft. Worth, Texas to visit Lockheed Martin's F-16 facility, according to Lt.Col. Andrew Thorne, the SCANG's SPP director.