F-35B Lightnings from 617 Squadron, currently embarked aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, have joined US and French jets in a fly past over Djibouti, East Africa, on the Red Sea coast.
The fly past was part of an exercise involving United States Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers that were conducting a presence patrol mission in the region. For the fly past the U.S. strategic bombers were joined by the 617 Squadron F-35B Lightning's, French Mirage 2000s based in Djibouti and US Marine Corps F-35Bs that are also currently embarked aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.
"I am delighted that the UK's Carrier Strike Group is able to participate in this event, it further demonstrates that the Strike Group and this deployment is truly international by design. The ability to operate seamlessly with our allies shows that we are stronger together and underpins stability and security within the region."
Commodore Moorhouse Royal Navy OBE
Commander UK Carrier Strike Group
Prior to the fly past the B-1Bs, from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron based at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, worked with U.S. and French joint terminal attack controllers to carry out a simulated close air support strike at a range in Djibouti. The U.S. Bombers were then joined by the other jets for the fly past.
The fly past was watched by around 200 senior leaders and guests representing Djibouti, France, Japan Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. who came together at the invitation of the US Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The visitors in addition to witnessing the flyover, also saw a variety of interactive and static demonstrations designed to showcase the combined military strength present in Djibouti; recognising the shared partnerships, history and commitment to peace of the participating nations.
"The mission served as a visual representation of the international participants’ collective commitment to stability and security in the Horn of Africa and it further demonstrates Djibouti’s commitment as a leading security partner in the region."
Major General Anderson
U.S. Africa Command Director of Operations