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RAF fighter jets join French and American allies in training exercise

Operation Point Blank took place over the English Channel on Tuesday.

An RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jet, a United States Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle and a French Air Force Rafale fly in formation over the English Channel during Operation Point Blank. (Joe Giddens/ PA)
An RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jet, a United States Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle and a French Air Force Rafale fly in formation over the English Channel during Operation Point Blank. (Joe Giddens/ PA)

Fighter jets soared over the English Channel as the RAF joined its French and American allies in a training exercise.

More than 40 aircraft participated in Operation Point Blank on Tuesday, including two of the RAF’s F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets, based at Marham in Norfolk.

Planes took off from bases around the country and the exercise was led by the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.

The exercise has taken place before, but this year’s is the largest to date, with almost double the aircraft, and it is the first time the French air force has participated.

Aircraft from the three air forces, including the French Rafale fighter and US F-15, worked as a team against “threats” in the training environment.

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A pair of US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle fighter jets over the English Channel (Joe Giddens/PA)
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The cockpit of a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker (Joe Giddens/PA)

Air Commodore Jez Attridge, of the RAF, said: “It really is a case of us staying ready so that we can be used if we need to.

“It’s a great insurance policy.”

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A pair of RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets fly behind a US Stratotanker during Operation Point Blank (Joe Giddens/PA)

He described the inclusion of the two F-35s as a “huge milestone” which “really shows the progression that Lightning Force is making”.

The first four F-35s touched down at RAF Marham in June, and five more arrived in August.

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