Royal Air Force, US and French jets practise dispersal and response to simulated attack base

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Air to Air photos of RAF Typhoon, French AIr Force Rafael, USAF F35-A and RAF F35-B Aircraft as part of Ex ATLANTIC TRIDENT on the 7th November 2023. UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

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.

Vigilant of the ever-evolving security landscape, typhoons from RAF Coningsby deployed to RAF Leeming alongside French Rafale and US F-35 counterparts for Ex ATLANTIC TRIDENT. The Exercise tested rapid dispersal of assets from a main base to operate from a different location – which could be another base, or even part of the nation’s road network.

Prompt mobilisation of skilled personnel and equipment – often alongside NATO allies – helps protect vital resources from threat and increase UK defence capability.

Pictured: AEE French Rafale and RAF Typhoons refuel after arriving at RAF Leeming as part of Ex ATLANTIC TRIDENT. Photographer: AS1 Jamie Ledger RAF. Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

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.

Lieutenant Colonel Veuille, Commanding Officer of the French detachment, said:

“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.”

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.

The Air and Space Commander, Air Marshal Harv Smyth, said:

“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.”

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.

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