With some frequency, planes from the Spanish Air Force fly to the United States to participate in various exercises.
This Friday, the United States Air Force (USAF) has released nine images of an Airbus A400M Atlas military transport plane of the 31st Wing of the Air Force at MacDill AFB, located on the east coast of Florida.
These photos were taken during a stopover of the Spanish plane at the aforementioned base, on a flight to Alexandria, Louisiana, to participate in the Green Flag exercise.
Green Flag exercises are organized periodically at Alexandria International Airport by the USAF 34th Combat Training Squadron, with the participation of air forces from other countries. These are exercises aimed at improving the training of tactical military air transport crews.
MacDill AFB, where these photos were taken, is a few miles from Tampa. Florida was a Spanish territory from 1513, with the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, until 1763, when the territory was ceded to the United Kingdom. Spain regained control of Florida during the US War of Independence, a fact confirmed by the Treaty of Paris of 1783.
The last Spanish governor left Florida in 1821, two years after the Adams-Onís Treaty between Spain and the United States put an end to Spanish sovereignty over that territory. Florida had a Spanish presence for 288 years, many more than the 202 years it has been part of the United States.
The Spanish aircraft that stopped at MacDill AFB is the TK.23-14 (31-34), an A400M with the capacity to provide in-flight refueling to other aircraft. However, and as can be seen in the photos, the plane has traveled to the US without the refueling nacelles that it usually carries on its wings to extend the hoses that are used to supply fuel in flight.
This plane has a design painted on its wing alluding to the 50th anniversary of the 31st Wing, which is celebrated this year. The design includes the drawing of an elephant, since the radio callsign of this unit is "Dumbo", the famous elephant from the Disney movie.
This is not the first time that a Spanish A400M travels to the United States. For example, in 2020 one of these aircraft from the 31st Wing flew to that country to participate in the Red Flag 20-2 exercise, developed in Nellis AFB, Nevada. You can see here the photos of that plane during a stopover at Dover AFB.
The A400M is the military tactical transport aircraft with the most autonomy that Spain has had so far. It can fly 6,390 kilometers transporting 20 tons of cargo. The distance between the Zaragoza Air Base, where the 31st Wing is located, and MacDill AFB is 7,323 km, so the Spanish plane probably stopped in the Azores Islands on its way to the United States.
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