Royal Air Force Typhoons and French Mirage fighter jets worked together over the Channel yesterday to practise their response to an aircraft posing a simulated threat to the UK or France. The front-line fighter aircraft met over the English Channel, known as La Manche or ‘The Sleeve’ in France, to intercept a jet simulating a potentially non-friendly military aircraft.
The RAF and Armee de l’Air collaborated as part of routine NATO Air Policing training to recognise a potential threat and coordinate the response. Known as Quick Reaction Alert, the process is similar whether inside UK airspace, on the maritime border with France, or as part of NATO Air Policing duties in Eastern Europe.
19 Squadron operates from the Control and Reporting Centre at RAF Boulmer which coordinates the response when a potential threat is raised by the National Air Traffic Services. To conduct yesterday’s training, they worked hand-in-hand with their French counterparts as well as with NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Germany.
“The ability for us to train with our NATO allies is vital in assuring the task of responding to threats within our area of responsibility. As a neighbouring country, our effective and efficient interaction with the French is key to ensuring mission success”, told Wing Commander Misiak, Officer Commanding 19 Squadron.
Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles led the training exercise, “These exercises are a good opportunity for the British, French and NATO national command centres as well as the British and French air traffic control centres and fighter crews to work together. This exercise was also an opportunity for our French fighters to perform an in-flight refuelling on a British aircraft.”
Vital air-to-air refuelling was provided by the RAF’s Voyager aircraft to both the UK and French jets during the exercise. This ensured that they had the flexibility to stay in the air for extended periods, providing the ability to intercept and escort aircraft at longer ranges and for longer periods.