The RAF has taken part in a large 2-day aerial exercise with the Royal Netherlands Air Force and United States Air Force involving over 50 aircraft.
Exercise POINT BLANK took place on 3rd and 4th February and included a range of 4th and 5th generation fighters, helicopters, command and control and air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
Close cooperation and integrated systems enabled UK Typhoon and F-35B Lightning aircraft to operate alongside Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A Lightning from Leeuwarden and United States Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
Exercise POINT BLANK is a long-standing exercise designed by the 48th Fighter Wing and Royal Air Force with a mission to prepare aviators for operations against near-peer adversaries. It provides NATO nations with an opportunity to practice and develop shared tactics, techniques and procedures. The training is invaluable in the continued refinement of interoperability across partners to maintain a unified, capable and confident NATO.
"Exercise POINT BLANK is an important serial in the training calendar for the UK and our allies – both in NATO and the US. This latest Exercise was a great opportunity for us to work closely with our Royal Netherlands Air Force colleagues using the F-35 Lightning II aircraft and the F-15E with United States Air Force. The training allowed Combat Air to enhance interoperability in a demanding and highly contested air environment, including the support of NATO E-3A. It is not only the flying of complex missions, but the planning and developing of our capabilities in a collegiate manner that ensures we are ready to operate alongside our Allies across a number of dispersed units in multiple countries."
Air Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid
Air Officer Commanding 1 Group
The size and complexity of the Exercise provided realistic training for aircrew and ground elements. The NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems were key to enabling interoperability between the nations in a highly complex environment.
"Exercise POINT BLANK is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate interoperability. The inclusion of NATO partners from bases across Europe, multiple platform types from within the RAF, the Typhoon frontline, and even candidates preparing for the Typhoon Qualified Weapons Instructor Course, demonstrates our combined ability to overcome distance and practise working together."
Squadron Leader Gould
Each year the Exercise is refined to introduce new challenges, which are built in to test those taking part. It allows nations to continuously improve their capabilities, and the combined capability of NATO to provide collective security and deliver defence should the need arise.
"Exercise POINT BLANK provides an invaluable opportunity to train our pilots and instructors to the highest level of airborne leadership."
Wing Commander Leask
OC IX (B) Squadron