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North Sea exercise gathers over 50 fighters from three countries

Point Blank 2020
Photo: Royal Air Force

Over 50 aircraft from the US, UK and the Netherlands are flying over the North Sea as part of the Point Blank 20-04 exercise that took place on September 10.

A high-end fight focused on fourth and fifth generation defensive counter air integration, this iteration saw the return of US Air Force F-15s, Dutch Air Force (RNLAF) F-16s, UK Royal Air Force and RNLAF F-35s, RAF Typhoons. A US KC-135 and UK Voyager are also on board.

“Flying alongside fellow NATO nations over and around the UK in a complex war fighting scenario involving over 50 aircraft is exactly the sort of training that keeps our Royal Air Force sharp and ready to operate alongside our Allies whenever and wherever the call comes,” said UK armed forces minister James Heappey.

The exercise also included first-time participation of US Global Strike Command B-52s operating out of RAF Fairford, F-16s from the 510th and 555th Fighter Squadrons from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and US Marine Corps F-35s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211.

The ten USMC F-35Bs are participating in Point Blank after arriving in the UK earlier this month. They will also join the Royal Air Force and Navy for exercises aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth later this year.

“For the 31st Fighter Wing, this is an excellent opportunity to participate in a Large Force Exercise within USAFE; allowing our warfighters the opportunity to practice fighting a near-peer adversary,” said Maj. John Hamilton from the 555th Fighter Squadron. “It allows us to train alongside some of our NATO partners and boost our interoperability with a variety of airframes.”

“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,” said Group Captain Chris Layden, RAF Lossiemouth Station Commander.

Point Blank is a recurring, low-cost exercise initiative designed to increase tactical proficiency and demonstrate the collective commitment to regional security.