News story

Air forces take to the skies

British and French jets have been practising their flying skills in the skies above northern England as part of Exercise Capable Eagle.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A Royal Air Force Typhoon from No 1 (Fighter) Squadron (top) and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N practise their formation flying skills [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]
A Royal Air Force Typhoon (top) and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N

State-of-the-art RAF Typhoons and French Air Force Mirages were involved in the air component of Exercise Joint Warrior, a twice-yearly, multinational, tri-service military exercise, one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.

This year is the first time it has been commanded by a joint team of French and British air commanders, a move that paves the way for continued co-operation and training at a high strategic level.

A French Air Force Mirage 2000N (left) and a Royal Air Force Typhoon
A French Air Force Mirage 2000N (left) and a Royal Air Force Typhoon from No 1 (Fighter) Squadron practise their formation flying skills [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]

RAF commander Group Captain Johnny Stringer said:

This is where we put into practice, and are tested on, all our core skills, and it allows us to test everything that we have integrated between the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force at Leeming over the past 8 days.

Around 700 military personnel are deployed at RAF Leeming, exercising in conditions they could face in future real-life operations.

RAF Typhoon and French Air Force Mirage in flight

The exercise scenario replicated the challenges faced by an Anglo-French Expeditionary Air Wing as it helps an overseas power cope with rising political and military instability.

Tackling terrorism, maritime piracy and cross-border insurgency were a few of the challenges faced by the air wing.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon (top) and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N
A Royal Air Force Typhoon from No 1 (Fighter) Squadron (top) and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N practise their formation flying skills [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]

Most of the ‘deployed’ personnel work in engineering, catering, transport, logistics and force protection, without whom the jets and other aircraft could not fly.

The RAF is fully committed to working with the French Air Force following the signing of the Lancaster House treaty in 2010 in which the Prime Minister David Cameron agreed a new era of military co-operation with the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

This rekindled Anglo-French partnership, initially forged in the skies over the Western Front in the First World War, was quickly put to the test a year later when the RAF and the French Air Force led a coalition to intervene in the Libyan civil conflict.

A French Air Force Mirage 2000N
A French Air Force Mirage 2000N [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]

This success led to the RAF supporting the French military campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon from No 1 (Fighter) Squadron
A Royal Air Force Typhoon from No 1 (Fighter) Squadron [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]
A Royal Air Force Typhoon (top) and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N
A Royal Air Force Typhoon from No 1 (Fighter) Squadron (top) and a French Air Force Mirage 2000N practise their formation flying skills [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]
Published 16 October 2013
Last updated 16 October 2013 + show all updates
  1. YouTube video link added
  2. First published.