The Typhoons were joined by 16 F-15s from the USAF and supported by several other aircraft from the RAF and USAF, including two RAF F-35Bs from RAF Marham, to take part in Exercise Point Blank. Most of the training was carried out over the North Sea. This joint training is a quarterly event held in the United Kingdom but is the first time the exercise has been held since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The exercise involved personal based at ten different locations spread across the UK and the planning for the sorties was conducted using secure video teleconferencing to comply with current CV-19 restrictions, and to ensure interoperability success.
One of the Typhoon pilots from IX (Bomber) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, said: “Large exercises alongside our NATO allies enable us to share tactics, training, and procedures.
“Coordinating this number of aircraft involves a lot of support staff on the ground, who maintain the aircraft, provide air traffic control, and manage the battlespace we are training within. Ultimately their hard work on the ground makes us more effective in a range of disciplines in the air.”
RAF Typhoon Pilot
The exercise is used by the RAF and the USAF as a cost-effective means of maintaining personnel at warfighter readiness using realistic training against near-peer adversaries. This particular exercise saw Combat Search and Rescue, Destructive Suppression of Enemy Air Defences, Defensive Counter Air sorties flown.
Capt. Nathan Hartoin, a F-15 pilot with the for the 493rd Fighter Squadron based at RAF Lakenheath said:
“Point Blank is instrumental in showing our bilateral resolve to continued operations during these restrictive times. The Wing was able to prove that displaced Mission Planning can be executed safely and swiftly across multiple bases with minimal coordination.
“The Exercise was a resounding success in providing key data points moving forward in being a more agile and lethal combat force.”