RAF Dambusters take part in US' largest training exercise in Alaska

Watch: RAF Dambusters in Alaska taking part in training exercise.

Pilots from 617 Squadron have taken part in the US's largest training exercise of the year, with the training being described as "the pinnacle of combat air in the Western world".

The Dambusters, with their F-35 Lightning jets, have been working with American and Australian counterparts in Alaska as part of Exercise Northern Edge.

Wing Commander Stew Campbell, 617 Squadron, told Forces News the training in Alaska sees personnel "exercising at the pinnacle of combat air in the Western world in the large ranges available in Alaska".

"Exercise Northern Edge is a trilateral exercise with the United States, Australia and, indeed, the United Kingdom," he said.

"A standard training mission on Exercise Northern Edge will see us force package with all the assets that are here, so we'll be flying with the F-22s, with F-35As, with F-35Cs."

Wg Cdr Campbell added that the exercise also includes F-16s and F-18s, which would generally constitute a "strike package" with each jet having "a different mission within that".

Watch: 1,500 UK personnel join Nato forces in exercise defending Estonia from invading forces.

"Whether that's providing electronic attack or whether that’s providing escort for the strike players or actually delivering air to surface munitions," he said.

"We'll tend to fight our way in and then fight our way out and then we're supported by airborne radar and also air-to-air refuelling assets to enable that package to get in and get out safely."

Wg Cdr Campbell said the training scenarios in Exercise Northern Edge are "as realistic" as he's flown in his 20-year career.

"We are going up and seeing what we would expect to see on a true mission and that is utterly invaluable for everybody involved," he said.

"We have a huge amount of assets here whether combat air, ISR, intelligence, etc across all the different functions of air power and, indeed, we're working in the land and the maritime environment during this exercise."

He added: "To train to the highest level you have to travel to the best training enablers.

"Here in Alaska, we have a huge amount of air space we're working in, indeed over twice the length of the UK, which really allows us to test the fifth-generation aircraft to the max extent they're capable of.

"Also, here we aren't as affected by air traffic controllers as we might be in the likes of Europe, so it really extends that range space available to us and also the opportunity to integrate with the US and Australian partners."

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