Air forces take to the skies in powerful display of new entente cordiale
These dramatic air-to-air images show British and French jets practising their dog-fighting skills in the skies above northern England.
State-of-the-art RAF Typhoons and French Air Force (FAF) Mirages took to the air together as part of Exercise Capable Eagle, which today (Monday) enters its second week.
The aircraft, flying from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, will be joined in the air by the combat proven RAF Tornado and FAF Rafale, which have fought as allies in conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya.
Exercise Capable Eagle is the air component of Exercise Joint Warrior, a twice yearly, multinational, tri-service military exercise - one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.
This year is the first time it has been led by a joint team of French and British air commanders, a move that paves the way to continued cooperation and training at a strategic level.
RAF commander Group Captain Johnny Stringer said: "Week two is where we put into practice, and are tested on, all our core skills and it allows us to test everything that we have integrated between the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force at Leeming over the past eight days.
“We are all looking forward to it. It is great to work alongside our French friends and colleagues once again, this time on exercise, as we have done so often operationally over many, many years.”
FAF commander Lieutenant Colonel David Marty said: "It is great experience to fly with our RAF allies and it has deepened our understanding of how we fly and fight together.
"Our training modes are similar so there is no specific adaption required for joint participation in this sort of exercise."
Around 700 military personnel are deployed at RAF Leeming, exercising in conditions they could face in future real-life operations. The exercise scenario replicates the challenges faced by a British-French Expeditionary Air Wing as it helps an overseas power cope with rising political and military instability.
Tackling terrorism, maritime piracy and cross-border insurgency are a few of the challenges faced by the air wing.
Most of the ‘deployed’ personnel work in engineering, catering, transport, logistics, and force protection, without which the aircraft could not fly.
The RAF is fully committed to working with the FAF, following the signing of the Lancaster House treaty in 2010 in which David Cameron agreed a new era in military cooperation with the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
This rekindled Franco-British partnership, initially forged over the skies of the Western Front in World War I, was quickly put to the test a year later when the RAF and FAF led a coalition to intervene in the Libyan civil conflict.
The havoc wreaked on Muammar Gaddafi’s armoured forces by joint Typhoon and Rafale operations was one of the major factors that brought the conflict to an early end. This success led to the RAF supporting the French military campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali.
This time it was the RAF’s expertise in high-altitude reconnaissance and long-range logistics that helped the French quickly push back rebel forces and stabilise the fractured country.
Editor: Flying Officer Tony Durrant, 7644 Sqn
Photographs: Sgt Ralph Merry
A Royal Air Force Typhoon of 1(F) Sqn and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N practice their formation flying skills as part of Ex Capable Eagle. The exercise is the latest in a series designed to further improve the interoperability and effectiveness of Anglo-French military co-operation.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013