Aircraft

RAF's Newest Jets Make Exercise Joint Warrior Debut

The F-35Bs joined Typhoon and Voyager aircraft in the multinational exercise.

F-35B aircraft, the RAF's newest jets, are taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior for the very first time over the east coast of England.

The multinational exercise takes place in the UK twice a year, aiming to enhance Britain's defence capabilities.

The F-35s are joining a squadron of RAF Typhoons, who are preparing for their NATO Air Policing mission at the start of next month.

Voyager aircraft are also involved - used to refuel the jets in mid-air - and act like a petrol station in the sky.

RAF Typhoon jets over the east coast of England.
RAF Typhoon jets over the east coast of England.

Wing Commander Dylan Eklund, Air Command, explains the purpose of the exercise:

"They [F-35s] are taking part in an exercise to simulate the recovery of a downed pilot.

"They are being controlled by an RAF E-3 AWACS plane, and the Typhoons are also playing their part in that."

The Voyager refuelling capability is what the military call a 'force multiplier asset', meaning it enables jets on operations to fly further for longer.

Master Aircrew Daz Maclane, Missions Systems Operator, explained how the refuelling process works.

He noted how the Typhoons probe comes into contact with a basket on the end of a hose connected to the Voyager, and the Typhoon pilot pushes in a certain distance for the refuelling to take place.

RAF Typhoon refueling with a hose from an RAF Voyager plane.
RAF Typhoon refueling with a hose from an RAF Voyager plane.

Flight Lieutenant Jase Orr, the Voyager captain, explained how it does not always go to plan:

 "One of the four Typhoons today was so short on fuel that he wasn't able to take any.

"He had to go home rather than wait around to get his turn.

"The weather forecast this morning was fine - as we came up to Scotland a lot of clouds around and very bumpy as well, so we had to work quite hard to find some suitable airspace for the fast jets to find us, and to be able to make contact with the hoses."

This squadron of Typhoons will be heading to Estonia before going to Iceland for the first time later in the year.