NATO Bridges Air Combat Generation Gap
(Source: Royal Air Force; issued April 20, 2017)
Royal Air Force Typhoons have notched up a historic first at one of the world’s largest air combat exercises.

The jets of 1 (Fighter) Squadron are flying with the US F-35 Lightning II as part of a combined force that is engaging with ‘aggressor’ squadrons. The US F-22 Raptor and the French Rafale make up the rest of the ‘blue forces’ on Exercise Atlantic Trident 17. It is the first time the ‘next generation’ F-35 has worked alongside all three Nato aircraft.

The exercise reinforces the Tri-Lateral Strategic Initiative agreed by the UK, US and France which will be re-signed by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, today (20 April) at a ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, where the exercise is based.

“Exercises like this strengthen the unshakable bonds between the air forces of our nations which have stood the test of time and remain central to our collective security,” said Wing Commander Chris Hoyle, Officer Commanding 1 (F) Sqn based at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray.

The UK will be taking delivery of 138 of the F-35s from Lockheed Martin for both the RAF and the Royal Navy, to use on its Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

“The F-35 is a highly capable aircraft and operating alongside it on this exercise gives the RAF a taste of what to expect when the F-35 is introduced into frontline service with the UK Armed Forces,” added Wg Cdr Hoyle.

Exercise Atlantic Trident 17 presents the RAF, US Air Force and Armée de l’Air with scenarios that replicate a highly contested operational environment. They are flying together in a variety of complex, simulated air battles against F15E Strike Eagles and T-38 Talons, both highly effective aircraft.

As well as working on their flying tactics and procedures, the three air forces are refining the software that allows their aircraft to electronically ‘speak to each other’. It is this ‘digital bond’ that allows the differing capabilities of the Typhoon, Rafale, F-35 and F-22 to be used to maximum effect.

“This synergy is what we call a force multiplier,” said Group Captain Paul Godfrey, the Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, who is also flying on the exercise. He had recently returned from a scenario which resulted in a highly successful ‘kill rate’.

He said: “The F-15s and T-38s kept coming at us but with all of the aircraft capabilities that we had available to us it was amazing to see how it all fitted together and how lethal we were.”

British industry also contributes to the F-35 project with BAE Systems contributing to the airframe and Rolls-Royce providing a major part of the vertical landing and take-off F-35 variant. Many other British companies make sub-systems for the aircraft.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: It is interesting to note that, for its first participation in an international exercise, the F-35 operated alongside, and not against, the Eurofighter and the Rafale.
Conveniently, this makes it impossible to compare the F-35’s capabilities with those of the other two fighters.)

Story history:
-- April 23: Corrected the name of the exercise, which was wrongly stated in the original RAF release, to "Atlantic Trident."


Atlantic Trident 2017: Leveraging Fifth-Gen Capabilities
(Source: Air Combat Command; issued April 19, 2017)
LANGLEY, Va. --- The 1st Fighter Wing is on its second week of Atlantic Trident 2017, an exercise at at Joint Base Langley-Eustis focusing on leveraging fifth-generation fighter capabilities with partnering nations.

For the past week, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II pilots have flown combat training missions with Royal air force Typhoon Eurofighter and French air force Dassault Rafale pilots to develop tactics, techniques and procedures to defeat adversaries around the world.

These anti-access/aerial denial missions, or A2AD, utilize U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle and T-38 Talon pilots as adversaries. The nature of A2AD missions provide a highly-contested environment where adversaries have the upper-hand, creating barriers that limit U.S. and allied efforts.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I. Col. Peter Fesler, 1st FW commander, said he looks forward to the opportunity of training with the nation’s longest-standing allies.

“We’ve been side-by-side together, the Brits, the French and the Americans in air combat,” said Fesler. “This exercise is an extension of that. I think this is an opportunity for us to continue to refine our skills, our tactics, techniques and procedures to fight the war that we all know is coming. We don’t know where, we don’t know when; but we know it’s coming, and we’ve got to be ready to fight together.”

In addition to the A2AD training, the U.S. Air Force and French air force are scheduled to display their capabilities with aerial demonstrations provided by the F-22 Demo Team and the Patrouille de France.


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