Military Aviation


Ex. Atlantic Trident 2017 will feature USAF F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon, and the FAF Dassault Rafale

From Apr. 12 to Apr. 28, 2017 the 1st Fighter Wing (FW) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE) will host a second trilateral exercise after the first edition held in 2015.

Called Atlantic Trident 2017, the exercise will see U.S. Air Force (USAF), Royal Air Force (RAF) and Armée de l’Air (French Air Force, FAF) combat aircraft training to perform air operations in a highly contested operational environment through a variety of complex, simulated adversary scenarios. As told by Airman 1st Class Anthony Nin Leclerec, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs, in the article JBLE hosts Atlantic Trident 2017, the goal of the drill is to enhance interoperability through combined coalition aerial campaigns.

“This exercise was designed to encourage the sharing and development of air combat TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) with our French and U.K. partners, against a range of potential threats leveraging U.S. Air Force fifth-generation capabilities,” explained USAF Col. Peter Fesler, 1st FW commander. “This is not only an opportunity to share the capabilities of the aircraft, pilots and maintainers between our nations, but to build friendship, trust and confidence that will improve our interoperability as we go forward.”

Noteworthy, even though various exercises are held with allied and partner nations throughout the world, this exercise is one of the first to focus on greater integration of U.S. Air Force fifth-generation capabilities.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis hosted a similar exercise in Dec. 2015 which provided some of the world’s most advanced jet fighters the chance to be tested to their limits against each other and enhance their ability to fly together operationally. However the upcoming exercise will be uniquely valuable with the addition of the F-35 Lightning II to the training.

Atlantic Trident 2017 in fact will feature the USAF F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon, and the FAF Dassault Rafale.

The RAF’s Typhoon and the French Rafale are regarded as fourth generation jet fighters while the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II are regarded as fifth generation.

The key differences in this generation gap are the stealthy attributes of the Raptor and the Lightning II and their ability to ‘hoover up’, process and present masses of data. The pilot can then increase the potency of any fourth generation aircraft flying alongside by sharing this information.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagles and T-38 Talons will play the roles of adversary aircraft, while the  service E-3 Sentry and KC-10 Extender aircraft will also provide support during the exercise.

Source: Royal Air Force; Photo credit: Senior Airman Kayla Newman / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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