US partners with French, UK forces for trilateral exercise in Hampton Roads

WAVY/Brandi Cummings

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Air forces from the United States, the United Kingdom and France have partnered for an inaugural trilateral exercise that is being hosted by 1st Fighter Wing (FW) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

General Mark Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force said, “It’s an ugly environment anytime you are actually conducting combat operations and so people must coordinate and cooperate to do it properly.”

The exercise has focused on a variety of simulated adversary scenarios and is designed to provide coalition forces with tools to handle real-life situations.

Photos: Trilateral Exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

“The trilateral exercise gives us an opportunity to train together in realistic counter-air and strike scenarios,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Fesler, the commander of the 1st FW. “This training is critical to ensure that we have day-one interoperability for future contingency operations.”

More than 500 people are part of the exercise, with 225 personnel from the U.S. Air Force, 175 from the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and 150 from the French Air Force.

“This is the start of something that will really improve our interoperability, our trust and confidence of each other and our relationship as we go forward,” General Herbert Carlisle, Air Combat Commander at Langley Air Force Base said.

Representatives from each country met at Joint Base Langley-Eustis Tuesday morning to discuss the exercise.

Sir Andrew Pulford, Chief of Air Staff of the Royal Air Force said, “It doesn’t matter whether we are operating on operations over Iraq or Syria or exercising here on the East Coast of the US, these are three Air Forces operating as one team.”

This is the first of its kind exercise involving three countries. For two weeks, the three air forces have been training together to be better prepared for actual combat scenarios.

“Getting the pilots and the air crews together to train together, to understand each other to develop tactics we can use and to build friendship and trust – which is really the fabric that keeps these coalitions together it makes them successful – that’s what this exercise is really all about,” General Welsh said.

Dozens of journalists gathered early Tuesday morning at Joint Base Langley-Eustis for the unprecedented event.

A key part of the training is the air craft. Crews practiced with the newest fighter jets from each force.

“When you put these three great airplanes together they can do so much more than they can individually because they bring strengths that complement each other and make the whole force that much better,” General Carlisle said.

He continued, “We’ll do more of them in the future. This is a great first one. Potentially in other locations perhaps in France, the UK and we’ll do them here again as well.”

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