U.K. and Dutch Jet Fighters Join U.S. B-52 Bombers and Fighters Over North Sea

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jimmy C. Pan via Wikimedia Commons

U.S., U.K., and other NATO forces continue to conduct sophisticated aerial warfare training across Europe. This week British, Dutch, and U.S. Marine jet fighters joined the United States Air Force in the U.S. and U.K.-led Exercise Point Blank 20-04 over the North Sea.

More than 50 aircraft flew in the major training evolution and U.S. B-52 strategic bombers took part for the first time this year. Other aircraft joined from an American base in Italy and USAF’s Europe and Africa units.

The annual evolution is designed to hone tactics and ensure readiness for the U.S., U.K. Ministry of Defence, and other NATO forces reported the Pentagon’s DIVIDS news service. “Multilateral exercises like this also increase interoperability, deter potential adversaries and ensure the skies within the European theater remain sovereign,” wrote Maj. Sybil Taunton, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.

Colonel Jason Camilletti, commander of USAF’s 48th Fighter Wing, based at Royal Air Force (RAF) base Lakenheath, said, according to DIVIDS:

What started as a small grassroots training initiative between the US and Royal air forces 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.

U.S. Global Strike Command B-52s operating out of the U.K. joined the exercise for the first time along with USAF F-16s from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and U.S. Marine Corps F-35s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211.

RAF Group Captain Chris Layden explained that:

Our Typhoons acted as the Aggressors against the fifth-generation F-35s from the RAF, US Marine Corps, and Royal Netherlands Air Force, simulating the tactics and threats of our adversaries whilst challenging their colleagues in a series of complex air-to-air battles that tested the skills of the pilots involved, and pushed these world-class aircraft to their limits.

Lt. Col. Joseph F. Freshour, the commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 stated that:

Exercises like Point Blank allow us to validate digital interoperability with Squadron 617 and is an opportunity to conduct realistic, relevant training with the United States Air Force, and NATO’s allies, expanding our global influence by developing capabilities that can share the burden in addressing common defense challenges.

Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) spokesperson Maj. Marleen Molema added, “We value the excellent opportunity Point Blank provides us to maintain and improve interoperability with our NATO allies.”

“The 48th Fighter Wing and our U.K. allies continue to lead the way with each iteration of Point Blank. Through our continued partnership, we are demonstrating the ability of allies and partners to seamlessly operate with one another across all domains in challenging and demanding scenarios,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, according to DIVIDS.

“This ultimately makes us experts at what we do, which is deliver air superiority anywhere across the globe,” concluded Gen. Harrigian.

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Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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