RAF News

British and Italian F-35B conduct austere training together

F-35 Lightning being refuelled by three personnel on the ground.
An F-35B from HMS Queen Elizabeth joins an Italian F-35B on a refuelling exercise.

An F-35B from HMS Queen Elizabeth deployed on Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) has conducted the UK Lightning Force’s first ‘austere forward refuelling’ in an overseas environment, whilst operating from the Aircraft Carrier.

F-35B Lightning and KC-130J tanker on the ground, with personnel and a fire engine.
The refuelling exercise took place from a KC-130J tanker of the Italian Air Force.

The British jet landed on the Italian island of Pantelleria to join an Italian F-35B to practice fast ground refuelling from a KC-130J of the Italian Air Force; further enhancing the close relationship with our Allied F-35 partners.

F-35B Lightning.
The Lightnings further enhance the close relationship with our Allied F-35 partners.

A Royal Navy Merlin and team of engineers, also from HMS Queen Elizabeth, arrived with the jet to assist in the refuelling which was part of a larger Exercise named Falcon Strike, involving F-35s from the US, UK, Italy and Israel.

A Royal Navy Merlin helicopter.
A Royal Navy Merlin from HMS Queen Elizabeth assists the refuelling, as part of Exercise Falcon Strike.

This rapid deployable refuelling exercise is a key training objective of the UK Carrier Strike Group as it sails through the Mediterranean.  Carrier Strike Group 21 demonstrates the UK’s new Carrier Strike capability alongside NATO allies, strengthening the Alliance’s long-term Deterrence and Defence posture in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.

A KC-130J tanker with two fire engines and personnel.

"This is a significant step in the F-35 strike capability and demonstrates agile combat employment in action.  Deploying from HMS Queen Elizabeth and working alongside our F-35 partner nations provides a wide range of opportunities to continue our joint development of the F-35B, and the Carrier Strike capability, in addition to building our relationships and working practices with NATO allies."

Air Vice-Marshal Allan Marshall
Air Officer Commanding 1 Group

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