RAF F-35B fighters from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth have been flying in a major international air exercise for the first time since the Carrier Strike Group sailed from the UK on its seven-month long deployment.
The eight aircraft from 617 (Dambusters) Squadron flew with and against crews from France and the U.S. in simulated combat off the South West French coast. The International Exercise called 'Atlantic Trident' is aimed at increasing understanding and the ability to fly and operate together.
Supporting the exercise was the RAF’s 101 Squadron flying Voyager tankers refuelling not only UK F-35Bs but those flown by the U.S. Marines, Rafale Jets from France and RAF Typhoons operating from RAF Coningsby.
“It has been our first opportunity to integrate with our closest allies in the US and the French Air Force and been a significant steppingstone as our operational capability develops throughout the Strike Group 21’s mission. The goal was in 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.”
Royal Navy Captain Blackmore
Air Wing Commander on the Carrier Strike Group
“Events like Exercise Atlantic Trident where we support the F-35s off the carrier and our Allied fighters are exactly where we come into our own in order to extend their endurance and enable them to project power. It has been great to be part of this and as we look ahead the Voyagers will be there to increase the reach of the Carrier Fighters as the ship moves across the world.”
Wing Commander Mike Udall
101 Squadron Commander
You can watch the F-35B Lightning Fighters of 617 (Dambusters) Squadron and 101 Squadron flying Voyager tankers in action on Exercise Atlantic Trident below.