The large scale exercise, known as Exercise Point Blank, is a regular quarterly exercise conducted by the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force are also taking part, say the Royal Air Force here.
“The RAF Typhoons taking part are drawn from 3(Fighter), XI(Fighter), 29, and 41 Squadrons and are being supported by Voyager tankers. The RAF Voyagers will operate in formation to allow up to four fighters to simultaneously refuel. This exercise also sees all three of the United States Air Force European based fighter wings taking part for the first time. The UK based 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath will be joined by F-16s from Aviano Air Base in Italy, and Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.
The F-16s will be flying long range sorties supported by Air to Air Refueling from USAF KC-135 tankers based at RAF Mildenhall and so will not be landing in the UK. The Royal Netherlands Air Force are also participating in the exercise flying F-16s and F35As from their bases in the Netherlands. In total over 50 aircraft will be committed to the exercise flying missions for four days.”
Squadron Leader Jim Fordham, the RAF’s exercise coordinator based at RAF Coningsby, was quoted as saying:
“Exercise Point Blank is a hugely valuable training opportunity for the RAF. It allows us to practice integrating with fighters from the UK’s closest ally and other NATO partners, going up against a range of simulated modern air and surface-air threats. The different aircraft types each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but when combined together our lethality and survivability however is greatly increased. The only way to generate this formidable allied capability is to regularly train together, developing and improving our tactics.”
The Royal Air Force say that this exercise follows on from the recent Exercise Cobra Warrior. Adding that such exercises are designed to ‘increase interoperability and the collective readiness of NATO allies to deter potential adversaries and ensure the skies within the European theatre remain sovereign’.