In a demonstration of Joint Air Power capability, Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets conducted Air Integration training with Rafale fighter jets alongside the Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group on December 16. From their location in the Eastern Mediterranean, Typhoons took part in Exercise OLYMPUS DAWN flying with Rafale multi-role fighter jets as well as conducting Air Maritime Integration with the Carrier Strike group. The exercise conducted over two days over the Mediterranean saw the Typhoons practice simulated long-range missile employment based on radar tracks of the opposing fighters before closing to do visual combat training (dog fighting).
“The exercise was a fantastic opportunity to work together and share best practise with one of our key partners; it has continued to show our close co-operation and interoperability development. The sorties flown with the French Navy have been a great opportunity to develop the interoperability between the two forces flying different aircraft types. It has also provided essential Air Maritime Integration opportunities for the Carrier Strike Group and French and British pilots alike,” said the UK Air Component Commander in the Middle East, Air Commodore Nikki Thomas.
An RAF Voyager tanker provided air-to-air refueling to extend the time on task for the fighters. The Typhoons also simulated attacks on the Carrier Strike group to testing their response to approaching missiles and enemy aircraft. Since November 15, the French Carrier Strike Group has conducted Operation ANTARES in close cooperation with other Allied naval forces. The group supports NATO’s capability to monitor and safeguard the approaches to the European area in the Mediterranean Sea. Joining forces with the USS George H.W. Bush and the Italian Cavour, the Charles de Gaulle form a credible intervention force on the Alliance’s eastern flank.
The carrier air group (le groupe aérien embarqué) operates three squadrons (11F, 12F, 17F) of fifteen Rafale M aircraft each, and one squadron (4f) of three E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy. The ship, commissioned in 2001, is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the only nuclear-powered carrier completed outside of the United States Navy. The ship carries a complement of Dassault Rafale M and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, AS365F Dauphin Pedro, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar helicopters for combat search and rescue, as well as modern electronics and Aster missiles.