French Rafale aircraft have been called upon to partake in the “Atlantic Trident 23” exercise alongside F-35A/B aircraft in the UK. This intriguing development has kicked off on October 31, 2023, under the capable supervision of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the US Air Force.
US and UK Involvement
The States have committed to sending F-15E Strike Eagle and KC-135 Stratotankers. From the British side, F-35B aircraft will be catapulted from the commanding aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Other units participating include Eurofighter Typhoon and A330 MRTT “Voyager”.
In response, the French Air and Space Force is dispatching four Rafale aircraft from Squadron 3/30 Lorraine. The French forces will also be complemented by an A330 MRTT “Phoenix” refueling aircraft, and an E-3F AWACS from the 36th Airborne Detection and Control Squadron.
Key Focus of the Exercise
The focus of the exercise is on “operations in contested environments” under a “high-intensity conflict” scenario. The drill will put to the test the planning, executing, and debriefing of complex missions integrating air-to-air and surface-to-air threats, and tactical data link implementation.
NATO Standards and COMAO
The procedures employed in the exercise are grounded on NATO standards, with an aim to boost mutual understanding and interoperability amidst participating nations. A noteworthy aspect of the exercise is the involvement of COMAO (COMposite Air Operation) exercises to measure participants' air attack and defense proficiencies.
‘Atlantic Trident’ Background
The “Atlantic Trident” exercises have taken place regularly since 2015. They form part of the Trilateral Strategic Initiative (TSI), initiated in 2010 between France, the UK, and the US.