Royal Air Force Typhoons working with French Rafale and US F-35 jets practised responding to an attack on their main operating bases.
The fighter aircraft were conducting missions together as part of Exercise Atlantic Trident when they were informed mid-air that their home bases had been denied and they were to disperse and relocate to RAF Leeming, Yorkshire.
“We deployed here at very short notice, without any preparation. We hadn’t planned how we were going to get here, where we’d be stationed or where our logistical support would be.
This is now the new way of doing it, in order to face the peer threats that we are having at the moment.”
Lieutenant Colonel Veuille
Commanding Officer of the French detachment
After successfully relocating to a remote corner of the airbase, they established secure communications with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Diamond to activate UK F-35s to provide support, and connected with Command and Control Centres on the ground and in the air to receive tasking orders; including counter-air missions to protect the Carrier Support Group.
“To ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, such as bases being denied or under threat, the RAF needs to be able to relocate our capabilities from their home bases to other locations.
This joint UK/French exercise has been a huge success and has surpassed all expectations.”
Air Marshal Harv Smyth
Air and Space Commander
Typhoons and F-35Bs showed their adaptability, with Typhoons switching their role mid-air from air-to-air patrol to air-to-surface attack.
The UK’s F-35s stayed on mission for 4 hours by ‘hot-pitting’ on the Carrier – to refuel and simulate rearming with engines running. Jets remained airborne by being air-to-air refuelled by French MRTT, US KC135 and RAF Voyager aircraft.