RAF To Join Major Air Exercise Over North Sea

Exercise Point Blank is designed to test the cooperation and tactical abilities of NATO allies.

The Royal Air Force is joining two NATO allies for a major training exercise involving more than 50 aircraft over the North Sea.

Aircraft from the RAF, US Air Force and Royal Netherlands Air Force are taking part in Exercise Point Blank 20-4, the USAF has said.

It will be hosted by personnel and F-15s from USAF 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.

They will work alongside British and Dutch personnel, as well as other US personnel based in Europe and Africa.

Also, for the first time in the recurring exercise, US Global Strike Command bomber aircraft will be involved.

The USAF said the "high-end fight" will involve F-15s, F-16s, F-35s, Typhoons, B-52s, and KC-135s.

The 510th and 555th Fighter Squadrons from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and US Marine Corps F-35s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, will also take part for the first time. 

Exercise Point Blank 281118 CREDIT BFBS
Aircraft take part in Exercise Point Blank, November 2018.

The exercise, usually held quarterly, is designed to "increase tactical proficiency" of US and NATO forces.

It also aims to increase "interoperability and collective readiness, deter potential adversaries and ensure the skies within the European theatre remain sovereign", the USAF said.

Colonel Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing Commander, said: "What started as a small grassroots training initiative between the US and Royal Air Force has now grown into an adaptable large-scale exercise capable of incorporating joint service and multinational assets across the spectrum of conflict.

"We stand in lock step with our British and NATO counterparts, and are proud that our collective efforts ensure that we are always ready to own the skies."

Meanwhile, RAF Marham welcomed 10 F-35Bs from the American Marine Fighter Attack (VMFA) Squadron 211 last week.

US Marine Corps personnel will work with 617 Squadron, joining Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for training ahead of Exercise Joint Warrior.

Crews from VMFA-211 Squadron will train in RAF Marham's simulators before carrying out sorties with 617 Squadron as they prepare to join the aircraft carrier.

Cover image: A library picture of an RAF Typhoon aircraft (Picture: RAF).