F-35B fighters based on HMS Queen Elizabeth have joined in an international air exercise for the first time since the carrier sailed from the UK on its planned seven-month long deployment.
According to the Ministry of Defence, Exercise Atlantic Trident is an exerciselasting two weeks involving aircraft from the RAF, the United States Air Arms and the French Air Force.
It is aimed at increasing understanding of each other’s working methods and the ability to fly and operate together.
“F-35B Lightning Fighters of 617 (Dambusters) Squadron flew with and against crews from France and the U.S. in simulated combat off the South West French coast. Supporting the exercise was 101 Squadron flying Voyager tankers refuelling F-35Bs to assist them staying airborne for extended periods.”
Royal Naval Captain, James Blackmore who is Air Wing Commander on the Carrier Strike Group described the involvement of 617 Squadron as a major milestone:
“It has been our first opportunity to integrate with our closest allies in the US and the French Air Force as well as the RAF Typhoon’s flying from the UK. It has also been a significant steppingstone as our operational capability develops throughout the Strike Group 21’s mission. Critically for this, is developing our ability to operate with our allies and partners and making sure our tactics and procedures are such that we can all work seamlessly together at a time of our choosing.”
During Exercise Atlantic Trident, 101 Squadron RAF provided air to air refuelling for both the UK F-35 Lightnings and US Marine Corps F-35s from the carrier along with French Air Force Rafale Jets and Royal Air Force Typhoons.