News story

DIO to host French fighter jets in Wales

French fighter jets will be flying over Pembrey Sands and Castlemartin as part of a major training exercise which starts next week.

Around 30 French personnel are joining UK troops for the exercise which will enable the French Navy Air Wing, based at Naval Air Station Landivisiau in north west France, to practise a procedure called ‘Joint Fires’.

This involves weapons being dropped or fired from aircraft which are then integrated with mortars, artillery and small arms which are deployed by troops on the ground.

From 11 to 26 March, UK and French Joint Terminal Air Controllers are taking part in the exercise alongside teams from the French parachute brigade.

The jets, which consist of 2 squadrons of Rafale M fighters and one squadron of Super Etendard fighters, will fly daily missions to and from Landivisiau, dropping practice-bombs and firing their cannons in support of the troops.

This will prepare troops for the formation of the future Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) which will see French and British troops working together as a team. The exercise is also being used as pre-training for a large multinational exercise that will take place in Scotland in April.

Commenting on the forthcoming exercise, Colonel Richard Howard-Gash, Commander Defence Training Estate Wales and West, said:

DIO’s priority is to support the Armed Forces as they prepare for operations and we are pleased to be able to support this joint exercise here in Wales. The ranges at Pembrey and Castlemartin are ideal for this type of training.

It is important for us to share training assets and training areas which help to prepare us for the creation of the CJEF, and this joint working will also save both countries money in the long term.

During the exercise Pembrey will operate weekdays from 9am to 4pm, and Castlemartin will operate weekdays from 9am to 9:30pm. Every effort will be made to keep the noise to the minimum possible.

There will be a significant increase in aviation activity at both ranges during the exercise, with up to 6 sorties per day at Pembrey and up to 10 sorties per day/night at Castlemartin. The aircraft will conduct both strafing and bombing sorties.