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F-16s from Aviano AB, Italy, are flying in Portugal's version of Red Flag at Monte Real AB, Portugal. "Having an exercise like this is very important because if we are involved in NATO operations, we'll be working together in the same environment," said Portuguese base commander Col. Alberto Francisco. Exercising with Aviano's 555th Fighter Squadron "is very good for our [Portuguese] units, because we are practicing with the best," Francisco added in a Feb. 4 USAF release. "It's a good opportunity to verify that our tactics and procedures are aligned with what the US Air Force does." Approximately 4,000 military personnel, including some 260 personnel from Aviano, and 44 aircraft from the US, Netherlands, Portugal, and NATO, are supporting Exercise Real Thaw over the next two weeks. The open range space and coastal location will permit aircraft to work with allied joint terminal attack controllers as well as Portuguese army and naval assets, according to the release.